Payson Supply Line Still On The Front Line

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Sometimes, it’s the little things.

Sometimes, it’s the thought that counts.

Either way, the Payson Supply Line in the past eight years has provided a tremendous service to as many as 36,000 Americans who have manned the front line in response to their nation’s call.

The dedicated local volunteers and the donors who support them have mailed off nearly 1,800 gift boxes, loaded with all sorts of hometown comforts for men and women serving in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each box holds gifts for up to 20 soldiers.

Last week, we introduced readers to the sons of Rim Country resident Susan Butler, who have served five combat tours as helicopter pilots in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the moment, they’re both in Afghanistan, serving in the nation’s longest-ever war.

The endless effort to turn Afghanistan into a stable, functional nation has taken a huge toll on our military. The 1 percent of Americans who protect the rest of us remain the most professional, capable, dedicated military force in the history of the world.

But they have returned repeatedly to these war zones in the past 12 years, putting an enormous strain on their families. One study by the Army’s Deputy Surgeon General reported that nearly one in three non-commissioned officers in their third and fourth tours report mental health problems, compared to 18 percent in their second tour and 12 percent in their first tour. One study found that 30 percent of junior officers were considering divorce or separation by the end of their 15-month tour.

The findings underscore the vital work done by the Payson Supply Line, which sprang from the unflinching dedication and compassion of friends Butch Klein and Lud Kaftan, and their families.

The packages loaded with those comforts of home have certainly fulfilled the physical needs of those who serve their country. The volunteers pack up boxes upon requests from all over the country, fitting in games, foot warmers, powdered drink mixes and a bewilderment of other items.

Each box reminds those soldiers suffering the boredom and the terror of combat that we do remember them — and long for their return to us.

So the Payson Supply Line offers these little comforts.

But more importantly, it also sends the message halfway across the world: Thank you for your service, you are in our thoughts and prayers — now come home safe.

Courts whistle a foul on lawmaker’s games

Political gamesmanship.

The Arizona Legislature excels at that subject — to the detriment of the state’s schools.

The citizens, however, have consistently voted to support education funding.

The most recent game the Legislature decided to play was the “I didn’t really mean that” game.

In 2000, the Legislature adopted Senate Bill 1007, which suggested a .6 percent sales tax increase to raise money for schools and promised to fund inflation increases to the school budget with the additional dollars raised.

Since SB 1007 included a tax hike, the Legislature decided it needed to take it to the voters and so Proposition 301 was born.

The voters passed it.

In essence, through Prop. 301 the Legislature asked the voters to tell them what to do. But when things got tough during the recession, lawmakers turned around and said the voters had no right to tell them how to spend money. Great game, huh?

Fortunately, the referee just blew the whistle, in the form of a court ruling.

The Appeals Court decision supports the schools and the will of the voters expressed through Proposition 301 by citing a little law named the Voter Protection Act, which prevents the Legislature from repealing initiatives and ignoring the will of the voters.

Score one for the schools and the Arizona voters.

Unfortunately, the Legislature plans to appeal the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Will they ever learn to play by the rules?

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