Your readers may know that Gov. Henry McMaster recently signed phase one of state pension reform in South Carolina. This bipartisan legislation resulted from several months of meetings by a committee comprised of Republicans and Democrats from both the House and the Senate.

Orangeburg Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter served on this joint committee, and she deserves thanks and credit for her hard work. She also deserves thanks and credit for her commitment not to stop here but to move on to phase two of pension reform, the transition to a modern form of retirement security for state employees.

Phase two is intended to give state employees more control over their retirement plans and greatly lessen the burden on taxpayers. Rep. Cobb-Hunter will be an integral part of phase two, and I hope that you will give her your support to finish the job.

Kevin L. Bryant

S.C. lieutenant governor

Columbia

The real problem is …

I went to the Dorn VA Hospital’s Urgent Care Unit in Columbia after getting a diagnosis at the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg: gross infection of the gallbladder.

Less than two hours after I passed out in the VA waiting area, they scraped me up and diagnosed me with alcohol withdrawal. They treated me for alcohol withdrawal for four days. It must have worked because I haven't had a drink since. BUT people knowing me will tell you I haven't had a drink of alcohol in at least 40 years before this.

After four days, they transferred me to Palmetto Richland Memorial.

The doctors at Richland said I would have been dead in four to six hours as all of my organs and blood were infected and shutting down. Richland provided a specialist for each organ and put me on life support. I woke from a coma more than a month later and was in physical therapy for many weeks. I never regained much of my strength.

At least I am alive – for now. Veterans deserve better care through the VA.

James F. Russell, Cordova

Give to local pet shelters

April 30 was “National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day,” and with an estimated 6.5 million pets entering shelters every year, there’s no shortage of furry friends still looking for a new home. One way everyone can help shelter animals — whether or not we’re able to adopt one — is by supporting local shelters with donations.

Unfortunately, like the animals they care for, shelters are often quite in need. Despite common misconceptions, the Humane Society of the United States and ASPCA are not umbrella organizations for local humane societies or SPCAs; and they give very little of the hundreds of millions of dollars they collect to local shelters. Only 1 percent of the money given to the Humane Society of the United States trickles down to local pet shelters while the group spends millions on ads, which local groups can’t afford.

To get the most out of charity, make sure to donate to your local shelters. Money, time or supplies can make all the difference to needy animals in your neighborhood.

Will Coggin

Research director

Center for Consumer Freedom

Washington

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