Two-pronged strategy proposed to lessen Valley’s heroin epidemic

Two-pronged strategy proposed to lessen Valley’s heroin epidemic

Thank you for spotlighting the growing heroin epidemic in the Valley with your editorial in the Aug. 18 issue of The Vindicator. Working together to combat this problem, as you suggest, is a good idea.

I’d like to suggest a two-prong strategy in attempting a long-term solution to the problem. The First Strategy: identify high-risk individuals, especially children.

We have finally learned how to identify children and adolescents who are at high risk for using and abusing illegal drugs. Years of research have made identifying high-risk kids relatively easy.

The goal is to identify these children and engage them in protective activities and programming so that they might have the tools to deal with their challenges without having to turn to drugs.

Meridian Community Care developed and facilitates the PANDA Leaders Club, which is currently in 14 Mahoning Valley schools. We focus on informative conversation and peer development to help them make positive life choices. The PANDA Leaders Club allows us to get a grip on the issues kids are facing and allows us to address them immediately, before they spiral out of control.

Funding for these programs in schools has been eliminated, and we applaud school systems that have been creative in working collaboratively with their communities to generate dollars from local individuals and business. This is truly a community issue that we need to come together to address.

The Second Strategy: Make treatment more available for the underinsured employed people in our state. The sad truth is that treatment is most available to those who can afford high-end treatment centers — and to those who receive government assistance for health care.

The health insurance of the average employed person has little or no coverage for substance-abuse treatment. Statistics show that functioning employed individuals may have the highest rate of alcohol and drug abuse. We can’t stop abuse until we deal with it at this level.

The solutions to the heroin epidemic are available now. They are not simple, inexpensive or easily achieved. But the cost, in both dollars and human suffering, is much higher if we do not act now.

Larry Moliterno, Youngstown

The writer is CEO of Meridian Community Care.

Hypocrisy of Trayvon coverage merits an Oliver Stone movie

About 20 years ago, I worked on an Oliver Stone executive- produced movie in Hollywood called “The New Age” starring Peter Weller and Judy Davis.

One of the plot elements was their opening of a hip clothing store in Beverly Hills called “Hipocrisy,” which quickly went out of business.

I have an idea for a new Oliver Stone movie starring Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, President Obama, et. al, MSNBC,NBC, CBS.ABC,, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post , and all the other media entities that fomented national outrage following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon (Martin) tragedy.

The plot line would be how the stars covered up the tragedies of how in New Jersey, 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale lost her bicycle and life at the same time, how the baseball dreams and life died at the same time for 22-year-old Christopher Lane, and down in Georgia 13-month-old Antonio Santiago’s life ended before he could suck on a Skittle.

Mr. Stone, my suggested title for your movie would be “Hypocrisy.” I wonder where Siskel and Ebert would have put their thumbs on this one.

Mark Rappoport, Mineral Ridge

When freed from jail, youth should be monitored closely

I’ve just finished reading about the man who was released from prison and asked his “friends” to help him find a job. Their suggestion — sell drugs.

And he did. I won’t go into the wrongness of that decision. That’s for another day, but I do have a suggestion for our social-service people and all the counselors, psychologists and the good intentioned folks who seem to be in abundance around here.

Before he or she is released from prison, why not find them a job or get them an interview? Have some stipulations prepared in advance for that person.

For instance, dress decently, no use of profanity, prepare to drive them to and from work for a period of time, set them up in an environment with no peers in sight. They must not be allowed to be put back into their old way of life.

That would be a recipe for disaster. I say about six months after release would be a correct amount of time to be involved with this young person. Perhaps the Rescue Mission could spare a couple of beds or rooms for these kids. Or the YMCA/YWCA.

These young people need help to be retrained and shown that their town cares. We do. This would be beneficial for the entire community. Our social-service people surely are up to this or should be.

We cannot continue to allow our kids to be thrown away.

Margaret Henning, Boardman

YSU president’s farewell jackpot illustrates much larger problem

Bertram de Souza’s column in last Sunday’s Vindicator nails it again. If I were Cynthia Anderson, retired YSU president, I’d be reluctant to show my face in public.

Wasn’t it generous of her to donate her farewell pay of $117,555 to a scholarship fund, while garnering a pension based on a percentage of her three-highest years of pay, the last being $400,000. You can just imagine what the pension will be, along with a lucrative health care package, and God only knows what other perks she got along the way.

Those of us in the private sector, whose taxes, along with all the student tuition increases, are paying for all of these nonvalue-added retirement packages. It’s just like so many others in the public sector with outrageous pension and severance packages paid off the backs of average working people.

No wonder so many people are tripping all over one another to get into the public sector and why cities throughout the country will fall like Detroit, in the bankruptcy- domino effect. Something must be done, and done soon, to stop the gluttony that is sucking the lifeblood out of America.

Robert DeFlice, Boardman

Criticism of unions disrespectful

In regard to the letter to the editor in the Aug. 18 Vindicator from a master sergeant from Jacksonville, Fla.: How disrespectful of a member of our military to criticize our unions of the United States.

Apparently you or any member of your family never worked in a steel mill or factory. Your letter sounds as if you would make a good Republican candidate for secretary of labor.

You should go back in history and see how many men died trying to form a union. The unions only ask for increases in wages when the companies are making money. There have been times when I as a steelworker gave concessions because of too many foreign imports.

We don’t make washing machines in the U.S. any more because of cheap labor cost and more profit for big business: corporate greed.

I retired with 43 years’ service as a union official from local union 1375 United Steel Worker of America and am proud of it.

Louis DeRose, Warren