To the Editor:

I’m responding to the two letters published in The Progress Review, the first from an inmate (published on January 11, 2017), the second from a veteran (January 18, 2017).
To the veteran: Sir, I have a couple of things that I would to THANK YOU for.
One: SERVING OUR COUNTRY. Reminding people it’s not easy being in the service. Or being away from home and family. Not easy all around. THANK YOU.
Two: Thank you for telling this inmate and others, “after their debt is paid to society. Put this mistake in your history book as a lessen well learned and move on with your life… It’s not too late.”
This letter is not to get a war of words going, but to do some comparisons. With no actual military or prison experience, I may be way off target, or closer than I think.
MILITARY SERVICE: Positives include three meals a day, a bed (maybe not comfortable), exercise (physical training), self-defense training, stationed around the world, discipline (as well as self-discipline), money for school, weapons training, friendships with people around the world (different ethnicities), regular daily schedules, being THANKED FOR YOUR SERVICE.
Negatives include the possibilities of going to war, dying, losing limbs, suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, being hazed in boot camp, being dishonorably discharged, not eating or sleeping for long periods, not seeing families for holidays or again, not getting great feasts for holidays, and BEING FORGOTTEN.
PRISON INMATES: Positives include three meals a day, a bed (maybe not comfortable), exercise (weights, maybe basketball, softball), cards, some schooling for General Educational Development (GED) tests, maybe some general education classes
for college and developing some friendships.
Negatives include daily counts (at least twice every day) for guards to know exactly where you are, sleeping behind
bars, very little contact with the outside world, being hazed when not getting along with someone or a group of people, dying, being forgotten by family and friends, treated like dirt when they get released.
SERVICE also has some extra things that kind of help remember them also: Veterans Day, Remembrance of Pearl Harbor, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day (not just for Veterans). All the war memorials that honor those who have served. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR YOUR SERVICE.
INMATES: Nothing extra
Therefore, I don’t think this inmate was looking for empathy. Just don’t forget about family and friends that are incarcerated. Send them a letter to let them know you’re thinking about them, just like you would do for a service member that is on your mind.
To the incarcerated, some of us think of you daily.

Gary Murphy
La Porte City