- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I have little sympathy for Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and all of the stress he faces day to day (“Panetta defends $860,000 for weekly trips home,” Web, Monday). I do understand his need to keep his mind straight. However, with 20 or so defense assistant secretaries, undersecretaries and so on, you would think that some of the stress could be delegated.

Remember, Mr. Panetta did not have to take the job. He could have retired to Monterey, Calif., as a member of the vilified “1 percent.”

I understand however, how President Obama could have become confused. If Mr. Obama can send his 13-year-old and her friends to a slumber party in Mexico accompanied by 25 Secret Service agents at the American taxpayers’ expense, why wouldn’t Mr. Panetta believe himself entitled to a free trip home each week?

If Mr. Panetta wishes to keep his mind straight, he needs to understand he is working for the American people. He should clearly understand that our troops spend far longer away from their families under far more stress than having to deal with political junkets and cocktail commandos at the country club. Let Mr. Panetta stand post for 24 straight hours or sleep in a slit trench. Maybe that will get his mind straight once and for all.

WILSON FARIS

Gaithersburg