Army apologizes for misprinted letters
January 9, 2009
By Lindy Kyzer
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 9, 2009) -- The Army Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. Reuben Jones, joined bloggers and on-line journalists Jan. 8, to discuss the error on some 7,000 letters sent to family members who lost Soldiers in the war on terror.
The letters did not contain a by-name salutation for recipients, but instead contained the placeholder greeting of "Dear John Doe." The letters were printed and sent by a contractor in late December 2008 to inform families of private organizations offering services and assistance. Jones expressed his disappointment in the error and the deep concern of his team for the recipients.
"I can tell you, I know our pain isn't what our family members' pain is about receiving this, but I have a team of dedicated young Americans who are on a first-name basis with many of these survivors, and they feel this hurt just as bad," said Jones. "But they are marching on because they know that their intent was to connect with them and provide them information on the generosity of our nation that has come to the Army."
Jones did not go into the details of who made the mistake, but said that contracting officials would look into the error. For Jones and his team, the focus now is on the families. Each family is receiving a letter of apology from Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
"We work hard to build trust and a relationship with our families so they know that they're still part of this Army team," Jones said. "They have been strong families for this strong Army."
The letters were sent as a part of the Survivor Outreach Services program, where the families of fallen Soldiers receive regular correspondence and contact with Army representatives. The program was launched in February 2008, and continues to grow in order to build a closer, better bond with spouses and family members, according to Jones.
"Survivors are part of that family for as long as they desire," said Jones. "We will give that support to them, day in, day out. One part of our covenant, our warrior ethos, says we will never leave a fallen comrade. We expand that to say that we will never leave a family behind either."
The program doesn't just reach out to families but also provides them a means of reaching out to the Army with their needs and suggestions.
"We continue to connect with our families, receive their comments and feedback on what we can do better," said Jones. "This is a program where we say, tell us what else we can do."
The misprinted letter, a part of regular SOS outreach to families, included links to dozens of organizations offering services and assistance to the families of fallen Soldiers. For a listing of the organizations included on the letter, visit <a href="https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/Active/TAGD/CMAOC/ALTFCM/programs.htm" target=_blank>https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/Active/TAGD/CMAOC/ALTFCM/programs.htm</a>