Smoking ban an insult to vets

To the editor:

I salute all Michigan newspapers that paid tribute to veterans on this past Veterans Day.

I am retired military and a member of five veterans’ organizations. But the silence from Lansing was deafening.

Could it be that any thanks from Governor Snyder and the state legislature would have been meaningless lip service after they slapped veterans in the face by including veterans’s posts in their ridiculous smoking ban law? State Representative Douglas Geiss introduced House Bill 4536 earlier this year to permit smoking in veterans’ posts and other establishments. If the majority of the legislature went along with this bill, it would not only make smokers happy, it would restore millions of dollars to the state in Keno sales and prevent some veterans’ posts and bars from having to close their doors due to financial losses from smokers no longer going in. I asked Mr. Geiss in an email in May what the status of his bill was. He said that he expected Governor Snyder to block the bill. That’s what Snyder thinks of veterans.

He is a millionaire who would not be if he did not live in a free country, a country that is free due to servicemen fighting and dying to protect its freedoms. Not long ago, Mr. Geiss told me that Snyder wants to also include no smoking in public parks. which smacks of New York Mayor Bloomberg. There is solid loyalty among active duty service personnel and veterans. Non-smoking veterans resent the ban in veterans’ posts as much as smoking veterans, and they will show their resentment when they vote. Cigarettes mean more to veterans than those who have never served. Cigarettes were used as currency to get some things from German guards in WWII POW stockades. The Red Cross also sent cartons of cigarettes to our POWs. I know retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Donald “Digger” Odell, a Macomb County resident, who was a POW in North Vietnam for five and a half years. Despite the brutality of their guards, their guards let them smoke, the only pleasure POWs have in any war. I

Incidentally, the Veterans of Foreign Wars was chartered by the U. S. Congress, but that did not stop the Michigan legislature and the governor from marching in and throwing the smoking veterans out.

Robert V. Ricard