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The long waits that VA patients have to endure to receive treatment across the country is tragic, but I know from personal experience that the cause is not a lack of hard work and caring by the physicians, nurses and therapists but rather an ungainly federal bureaucracy.

Before I retired as a physician, I volunteered at the SORCC for several years, and I witnessed the hard work and caring by the medical staff there. I also found the VA patients and families to be some of the nicest and most appreciative people I've ever worked with.

The problem is two-fold: the typical federal bureaucracy and a shortage of physicians.

The federal bureaucracy is age-old, and I don't know much can be done except to avoid it at all costs.

The shortage of physicians is not limited to SORCC. It's a sad fact of life across Oregon, and it's due to a lack of tort reform (no young physician wants to come to a state where suit-happy lawyers have blocked tort reform) and to the fact that young students nowadays don't want to spend the years of medical training required — only to end up working for Obamacare bureaucrats. — Douglas Kirkpatrick, M.D., Medford

Outside my living room window, I see Mount Ashland. Its snowcap is gone. When we came seven years ago, the snowcap lasted into mid-August.

The valley is hazy except on Sundays, and I conclude that an active populace creates haze during the week. Scientists tell us it is human-caused. They also tell us that the severity of the fires, floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, acidification of the oceans, and now hail from 10,000 feet are likewise human-related. Will it be possible to turn the great ships we call nations in a new direction?

We are Americans. We were a nation of isolationists in 1941 when we were attacked and lost our navy at Pearl Harbor. We turned on a dime. In three months, automobile producers rolled out airplanes. The shipyards launched ships daily. The populace accepted restrictions on gasoline and many food commodities. When we Americans "get it," we make things happen.

As in 1941, we don't "get it" that we are vulnerable and our disasters are human-influenced. Lets pay attention; make polluters accountable, and change our own carbon footprint.

Wake up, America! — Elizabeth R. Hallett, Ashland

Regarding Kathleen Parker's commentary "Obama's hard choices — in Bergdahl's case it was obvious" that was printed in the June 5 Mail Tribune:

I take issue with Parker's assessment of the trade for Bowe Bergdahl. I think this trade was so asinine, and I think we will live (or should I say die) to regret it.

Think about it! Bergdahl was "worth" five known criminal terrorists? These were the five worst in Guantanamo? I believe these five freed terrorists are laughing their heads off at how dumb and stupid Americans are; after all, their goal is to kill Americans.

Bergdahl voluntarily left his post (unarmed) and denounced the USA. At that point, he was no longer a hero, nor was he a soldier. He should be court-martialed. He let down his country and his fellow soldiers, and he is a coward. The U.S. casualties are sure to follow by these five released terrorists, and there is blood on Obama's hands! — Phyllis Joy, Phoenix