Dear Ann:

You printed a letter from "Needs Help in Cape Cod," whose daughter is a compulsive spender. I hope it's not too late to respond. I sympathize with those parents because their child sounds just like my husband.

"Trent" cannot resist buying things, whether or not he needs them or can afford them. This compulsion has landed him in plenty of hot water. Last year he leased a car, then purchased another. He ended up making car and insurance payments for two cars when he could barely afford one.

So far, we've been fortunate. We haven't lost our home, nor has anything major been repossessed, but I know it could still happen. I realize my husband is a "spend-aholic." Another member of my family is an alcoholic, and I attend Al-Anon meetings regularly. As a result of what I have learned at those meetings, I no longer bail my husband out of his financial messes. When he asks me to sign for a loan or give him money, I politely refuse. And I have learned not to argue with him about his spending because it accomplishes nothing.

Tell those parents in Cape Cod to stop bailing their daughter out. I know it's very difficult for them to see their child drowning and not try to "save" her, but the girl needs to learn responsibility. If her parents insist that she cut up her credit cards and get counseling for her spending addiction, it won't be a permanent cure. She must want it for herself. I wish her luck.

Voice of Experience in Colorado

Thank you for sitting in my chair today. I could not have said it better. I hope those Cape Cod parents see your letter, and that their daughter is equal to the challenge.

Dear Ann:

A while back, you printed a letter from a woman whose husband, "Duke," had retired from the military. Since then, he stopped taking regular showers, hasn't had a haircut, and shows no interest in sex. You told her Duke needed to be seen by a doctor.

The changes the woman noticed may be the result of readjustment problems many military men suffer when they face the challenges of returning to civilian life. Please tell your readers there are services available specifically for veterans through Veterans' Affairs (VA) medical centers and outpatient clinics. To find the nearest VA facility, readers can check the government listing in their phone book.

Thank you for your continued support of our troops, and for reminding people that many still suffer the effects of their service to our country long after they have been discharged. VA is there to help.

Dorothy Carskadon, MSW, Rockford Vet Center Outstation, Ill.

Thank you for providing my readers with some valuable information. I hope Duke and his wife call the nearest VA facility today.

Dear Ann:

How do I handle telephone callers who do not identify themselves? I do not have the ear of a Toscanini or a Solti. I have trouble recognizing the voices of people who choose not to introduce themselves. When I say "Who are you?" it sounds rude. I end up encouraging the callers to talk endlessly about themselves until I get a hint of who they might be. This is time-consuming and annoying.

Whenever I call anyone, I say "Hello. This is Dan." What should I do about callers who refuse to help me out?

Dan in Chicago

I'll tell you what I do. I say, "Sorry, I don't recognize your voice. To whom am I speaking?"

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