Army regrets letters' error
By Henry Cuningham
The Army’s top general is personally signing letters of apology to 7,000 families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, after they accidentally received correspondence addressed to “Dear John Doe.”
Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, is expressing regret for the printing error on the letters that should have contained personalized greetings.
“He feels very strongly about that,” said Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon. Casey lost his own father in the Vietnam War.
The addresses were printed correctly on the envelopes, but an automated program failed to personalize the inside letter for recipients — spouses, parents, children or siblings of soldiers killed in action.
“It does not reflect the high-quality personal communication that we strive for when we send the letters out to the families,” Boyce said. “We should have caught it.”
The letter was printed by a contractor and mailed in late December, informing families about private groups offering help to those who lost loved ones in combat, the Army said Wednesday.
“It’s definitely not the contractor’s fault,” Boyce said. “It’s our fault. Ultimately we had to quality-control it.”
The letter was sent from the U.S. Army Human Resources Command’s Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Center in Alexandria, Va., which subsequently issued a formal apology on Wednesday.
“There are no words to adequately apologize for this mistake or for the hurt it may have caused,” Brig. Gen. Reuben D. Jones, the Army adjutant general, said in a statement Tuesday. “It is important the original intent of the letter is not lost. The organizations mentioned are dedicated to honoring loved ones and recognizing their sacrifice and commitment.”