Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Condolence letters, the fallen

Yesterday, Elaine Quijano followed up on her earlier CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley report. Last week, she reported on how, if your loved one takes their own life or dies in a training exercise, you receive no condolence letter from the president. Yesterday, Quijano reported that the White House announced they will do condolence letters to those whose loved ones take their own lives in a war zone. Dan Lothian (CNN) makes it more specific, "In the statement Tuesday, the White House official said a review had been completed, and the president will send condolence letters to families of service members who commit suicide while deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat operations" (and notes that CNN has been reporting on this issue since 2009). In her report last week, Elaine Quijano noted:

Sara Conkling didn't receive one either, for her daughter, Jessica.
"She was willing to put her life on the line and she did lose her life doing it," Sara says. "But it doesn't count as much to them."
Conkling was a Marine Corps pilot training for deployment in combat when her helicopter crashed in San Diego. She was 27.
Families of active duty military who die in stateside training accidents do not receive presidential condolence letters. But Sara Conkling says her daughter's sacrifice deserves that recognition.
Sara says, "You'd like people to have appreciated and understand what she did, that she was important and her loss is a big loss."

The policy change does nothing for Sara Conkling or others in similar situations. While it's good news for those who lose a loved one to suicide, it does nothing for those like Conkling. A change should have covered both.

15 US soldiers died in the Iraq War last month, three as the month was winding down on June 29th: Matthew Nielson, David VanCamp and Robert Tenny Jr. In Iowa yesterday, his family held a press conference to remember him. Dar Danielson (Radio Iowa) reports:

Christine Nielson said she's like her son to be remembered as someone who was honest and tried to help everyone he met.
She says he was friendly and worked in the produce section at Fareway, the first place you see in the store, so he greeted everyone that came in the door and remembered things about him. "There's a lot of old people in this town that probably know him," Nielson said. She says he was the same way when he had a paper route delivering the Boone paper. "Man that kid got tips," she said.

June 26th, Spc Dylan Jeffery Johnson was killed in Iraq. Manny Gamallo (Tulsa World) reports a memorial for Johnson will take place this afternoon (2:00 pm) "at the Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian. [. . .] The family has asked that donations be made to the Fallen Patriot Fund or the Disabled American Veterans." The following community sites updated last night and this morning:

Mikey Likes It!
The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends