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Guest columnist Glenn Nelson blames a lack of racial diversity in the National Park Service workforce on — in part – the veterans’ preference in federal hiring [“As National Park Service turns 100, Seattle ranger personifies change,” Outdoors, Aug. 21].

His conclusion is flawed and misleading.

Although the oldest U.S. military veterans are overwhelmingly white, 2011 Census figures show that 35 percent of the youngest vets, aged 18 to 34, are non-white. In the 35 to 54 age range, the number is 29 percent. The youngest vets, people in the most diverse group, are also those most likely to need and seek employment following their uniformed service.

Veterans do have an advantage in federal hiring — but why shouldn’t those who have honorably served their country get that break?

Military service is frequently dangerous, regardless of branch, and not only confined to combat units. For example, anyone who’s worked on the deck of a U.S. Coast Guard buoy tender, driven a motor lifeboat through coastal surf, jumped out of a rescue helicopter into 30-foot seas, or performed maritime-security patrols in the Middle East can explain to Nelson how hazardous their duties can be.

Lt. Cmdr. Phil Johnson (retired), Seattle

Noise over serenity

On the 100th anniversary of the national park system, Phillip Levin’s article “The real value of the national park system” [Opinion, Aug 21] describes the array of benefits our national parks provide our region and, indeed, the planet.

Unfortunately, the Navy believes that the value of the Olympic National Park lies in its proximity for electromagnetic warfare training involving noisy jets, three at a time and 260 days a year.

Yes that is what they want to do with the park. To heck with the serenity of the soundscape, the migratory bird passage up the coast line, the wildlife habitat and the tourist business.

Linda Brewster, Port Townsend