There are nearly two-and-a-half million disabled placards in California – that’s one in every 10 drivers in the state.
Before her life fell apart, before suicide began to sound like sweet release, Natasha Young was a tough and spirited and proud Marine.
Straight off the hardscrabble streets of Lawrence, Mass., a ruined mill town ravaged by poverty and drugs, she loved the Marine Corps’ discipline, the hard work, the camaraderie, the honor of service to her country.
She went to war twice, the last time five years ago in western Iraq with a close-knit team of Marines who disabled IEDs, roadside bombs. It was nonstop work, dangerous, highly stressful and exhausting. Six of the Marines were killed in bomb blasts, each death a staggering gut-punch to the others. After they returned home the commander took his own life. Staff Sgt. Young broke down, too, spent physically, emotionally and mentally. Eventually, she was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, last October, was medically discharged from the Corps.
Having been a strong warrior, now she simply couldn’t function. “I was ashamed of myself,” she says in a whisper at her home in Haverhill, Mass.
Young is one of a generation of 2.4 million Americans who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, many of whom are coming back profoundly changed by what combat veteran and author Karl Marlantes described as the “soul-battering experience” of war.
An employee at a public swimming pool in eastern Kentucky was suspended for a week without pay after telling two disabled gay men to leave, city of Hazard officials said Saturday.
The suspended city employee Kim Haynes told investigators that the two men were engaged in an excessive display of affection June 10, and that he would have told any other couple to leave had he seen similar behavior. Haynes, however, also acknowledged he said “We don’t tolerate that kind of activity around here” and cited the Bible in an argument with Laura Quillen, a member of the social service group Mending Hearts, which was overseeing the group.
Quillen told investigators the men did nothing inappropriate.
According to a report released by city attorney Paul R. Collins, summing up the conflicting accounts, at least one witness saw the men “standing `man to man’ or `belly to belly’ in the pool . splashing each other with water and pushing each other under the water.” The witness “also said he observed them hug each other on at least one occasion” and give each other a kiss, the report said.
Pearlman and Haynes were not at work on Saturday and could not be reached by the newspaper for comment by telephone.
Budget, Medicare, Medicaid: Neediest and sickest Americans would pay the price under GOP budget plan
The principal target of Ryan’s plan is government healthcare spending — Medicare, Medicaid and the healthcare reform plan. That’s a reasonable place to aim any deficit-reduction plan, because that’s the area where costs are rising most sharply.
But his solutions are the antithesis of reasonable. They involve almost entirely throwing the neediest and sickest Americans out from under the government umbrella to fend for themselves. Medicare as we know it would be eradicated, the cost of Medicaid shifted largely to already hard-pressed state government, and a reform program designed to give tens of millions more Americans the protection of health insurance canceled outright.
Is this really the only path to deficit reduction?
Obama, to his credit, drew a philosophical line in the sand that his progressive supporters have been waiting to see for two years. Ryan’s vision, he said last week, “says America can’t afford to keep the promise we’ve made to care for our seniors…. It’s a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit.”
The parents of Abbie Dorn, severely injured when her triplets were born, are in court in hopes of establishing her right to spend time with her children. Her former husband objects.
Judge Frederick C. Shaller faces a daunting array of questions this week as he decides whether a paraplegic woman who communicates largely by blinking has the right to see her triplets.
What is a parent? What is communication? What is a relationship? Does a child, not yet 5, benefit from visiting a mother who neither moves nor speaks? Can that woman — Abbie Dorn, 34 — think, feel, love, want? How is it even possible to know?
And now for some good news about people doing positive, selfless things. Animal lovers might want to grab a box of tissues… ;o)
Safe haven: Disabled and disfigured animals find a loving home on couple’s 160 acres
By GINNY MERRIAM of the Missoulian, Nov. 24, 2002
OVANDO - At the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary, every creature comes with a story.
Most every story is of suffering and pain, neglect and disease. But every story has a happy ending on Upper Dry Gulch Road on Kleinschmidt Flat east of Ovando, where Steve Smith and Alayne Marker have established discarded-animal heaven.
Visitors to the 160 acres are likely to be greeted by the loud barks of Widget, a beagle-dachshund mix with bowed legs and charge-ahead curiosity about everything. She pokes her head through the fence wire, leading with her nose, a foot-tall Napoleon who wants everybody to know she’s in charge.
Widget is blind. She came to Montana because nobody wanted her. At an animal shelter in upstate New York, she was on death row. An animal rescue organization there got in touch with the Rolling Dog Ranch. The price of Widget’s life was a $153 Delta airline ticket. Steve and Alayne didn’t think twice.
If Widget could see, Alayne likes to say, she’d probably take the keys and drive the truck to Helmville for some adventure. What she has taught her benefactors has no price, they say: A disability is no reason to give up on an animal, and it shouldn’t bring a death sentence. A blind dog, a deaf dog, a cat with diabetes, an elderly mule, a blind horse, a sheep with its ears chewed off can all enjoy good lives.
“They just work their way through and over and around it,” Marker said in a recent interview at the ranch. “They live with it, and they have quality of life.”
Widget inspired Marker and Smith to rescue other blind dogs. Kelly, an old, blind dog was found wandering near Deer Lodge in May, presumably turned out by someone. No one responded to an ad. The local shelter called Steve and Alayne, who took care of her until she died of other medical problems recently.
Dusty was a sled dog whose owner had Dusty’s right eye removed when it developed glaucoma. Untreated, the other eye went blind. The musher took Dusty to a local veterinarian to have him euthanized in June.
“The vet called us and said, “I don’t want to put this dog down,’ ” Smith said. ” ‘He’s only 2, and he’s just blind.’ “
Smith and Marker came to Ovando from the unlikely venue of good corporate jobs with Boeing in the Seattle area. Marker is a lawyer and Smith a communications specialist. They met about 10 years ago at a park in Bellevue, Wash. Smith was trail running, and Marker was walking with her dog, Spats, a black Labrador retriever cross who had white feet and a white chest. Spats began following Smith, so he had to run after Alayne to return her dog.
“I kinda noticed her,” he says today. “I kinda noticed she wasn’t wearing a wedding ring.”
They’ve been married eight years. From the beginning, they shared a love of Montana hiking vacations.
“Night after night for years, she would lay in bed and read land catalogs,” Steve said of Alayne. “Honestly.”
On a trip to the Missoula area in June 1998, they found a quarter section of rangeland for sale, almost by accident. It was flat - Kleinschmidt Flat - but the irrigation ditch supported cottonwoods, and the backdrop of the Scapegoat Wilderness and the North Fork of the Blackfoot River country was spectacular. They met the rancher who had the land listed. By September they closed on it, and in November they put up their modest house.
When they met, Marker had her dog, and Smith had six cats. Their household grew to six dogs and six cats, way over the codes for Bellevue. They were involved in animal shelter work as volunteers, and they talked about turning their Ovando property into an animal sanctuary after they retired - early, they hoped.
“It was our own pets who inspired us,” Steve said. “It was seeing dogs like this that made us realize and think we could make such a difference.”
But time moved too slowly in Bellevue.
“In 2000, we just said, ‘Early retirement is too far away,’ ” Steve said. “So we gave up those good corporate jobs at Boeing and moved out here.”
“There we were in Bellevue,” said Alayne, “and we just felt like we were clocking time.”
Steadily, they have built outbuildings that include a dog cottage for the residents, a dog receiving cottage that’s also an infirmary, and a cat cottage. They named it the Rolling Dog Ranch because their dogs love to roll on their backs in the sagebrush meadows.
Though establishing nonprofit status was among the first things they did, they’ve used their own savings to develop the ranch.
“We came out here knowing we were going to use our own money to establish the sanctuary,” Steve said. “We want people to know their (donated) money goes to the care of the animals.”
They know they’ve taken a chance.