Fifty years ago this month, World War II was winding down in Europe, and Germany's collapse was imminent. For those of us fighting in the Pacific, however, there were still two of the war's bloodiest battles to go, at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In these two battles, we lost over 30,000 men who were killed, wounded or crippled for life.

Many of us who survived these horrible experiences are among Utah's 147,000 veterans who still need hospital/nursing-home care to help bind up our still crippling wounds - now complicated very often by painful and debilitating arthritis and other equally incapacitating conditions.The only problem is that Utah doesn't have a nursing home for vets, although 43 other states do. Idaho, with only 100,000 vets, has three.

Utah has historically been among the last to adopt and implement any programs or benefits to help its brave vets. Four of the remaining seven states that don't have nursing homes are currently considering building one. Does Utah want to be last once more? Is this the way we want to treat the men and women who were willing to lay down their lives to protect their country?

Gov. Mike Leavitt, who was in the National Guard but never fought for his country or was wounded, has once again left our nursing home off his list of important matters to take up in this year's legislative session.

Perhaps some of this lack of concern has to do with two myths, the first being that the V.A. hospital does provide long-term nursing-home care for vets and the other that there are many nursing homes currently available for Utah's vets. Both are wrong.

Any available homes charge anywhere from $1,200 to $1,500 a month, which puts them out of the reach of most of Utah's older and poor vets. With the state's surplus, we vets feel the state should come up with the $2.3 million needed to fund the long-neglected nursing-home bill.

Charles S. Bollard