There is inescapable irony in the fact that so many young Americans go off to wars in foreign lands, only to come home shattered and facing a different kind of war.

Many soldiers manage to escape death on the battlefield, return to America and become outcasts, victims of the ravages of war, especially its dreadful effects on the human mind.

An average of about 20 military veterans a day commit suicide. Post-traumatic stress often gets — and deserves — the blame. The problem of veteran suicide is especially acute in western states. The suicide rate for veterans in Montana, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico is 60 per 100,000 of population. The national veterans’ suicide rate is 38 per 100,000.

One veteran suicide is one too many, and the folks trying to solve the problem at the local level are the recipients of today’s bouquet of red roses.

La Casa de Flores opened its doors to veterans last month. It’s a modest, three-bedroom residence at 400 W. Church St. in downtown Santa Maria whose purpose is to offer a safe haven for military veterans in trouble, and to try to bring positive change into their lives.

La Casa de Flores is named for Superior Court Judge Rogelio Flores, who has worked for years to support local veterans in need. Judge Flores created the Veterans Treatment Court of Santa Maria six years ago, a program that has helped countless veterans achieve sobriety through cooperation and collaboration with partners to keep veterans out of jail.

Judge Flores’ efforts have inspired other veterans to offer help to fellow soldiers, and has since added the Band of Brothers and Echo Group to the fold.

La Casa de Flores — called Camp Flores for short — is free to any veteran who needs help. All you have to do is ask.

It would be great if Camp Flores could get a helping hand from the community. Anyone can just come to the front door with their offer. Food donations are always welcome, along with cleaning supplies and laundry soap. If you can provide services such as haircuts, oil changes, etc., that would be a great help. For more information, or to give or seek help, email

Who knows, help you can give may end up saving a veteran's life.


Normally, we would keep our roses and raspberries local, but the shenanigans in and around Washington make that goal difficult to achieve.

The latest flap concerns the row between President Trump and his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, which Trump now insists is not only “fake news,” it’s also old news. You can be the judge of that.

The Cabinet member was reported to have referred to his boss as a “moron.” When asked a direct question about whether that was the case, Tillerson danced around, never answered, but referred to Trump as “smart.”

That didn’t seem to mollify Trump, who has the tendency on occasion to morph into a pre-teen, raging male bully. The president countered by labeling the “moron” assertion fake news, but then turned around and challenged Tillerson to match IQ scores.

Really, gentlemen, is this how to govern a world superpower?

We suppose Tillerson will decline the president’s IQ-comparison challenge — despite an offer from Mensa to administer the tests for free — but one has to wonder how much longer this fouled-nest relationship can last.

In any case, raspberries to all the players in this sorry scenario, and to everyone else who can’t see that our nation’s elected leaders seem to have wandered off the path.