Sgt. Collins was one of six soldiers killed in a suicide attack December 12, 2010 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was laid to rest December 29 in Tahoma National Cemetery, Kent, Washington. His family received an outpouring of empathy from friends and complete strangers and received a letter from Senator Cantwell that they felt expressed condolences too, until they opened it and read it.
Family of fallen soldier warmed by letters, stung by politicians
Sgt. Collins’ father, retired Lt. Col. Patrick Collins said the outpouring and condolences was “overwhelming,” in regards to those received from friends and strangers. He cannot say that in regards to the letter received from Senator Cantwell’s office.
Sgt. Collins mother, Linda Collins, received the letter from Senator Cantwell’s office December 20. Reading it, they were shocked to read the last paragraph,
“Again, please accept my warmest condolences. May your memories of Bryn and the knowledge that he made a positive impact on the lives of so many serve as a source of comfort to you during this time of sorrow.”
Sgt. Collins’ name is Sean, not Bryn. Obviously, the letter of condolence was little more than a form letter sent from an aide and apparently not even proofread.
Sean’s mother said of the letters,
“They couldn’t even proofread it. I’m sure if her son had died, she would’ve at least wanted his name spelled correctly.”
His father, a retired Lt. Col. Undoubtedly familiar with proper protocol in such tragic incidences said,
“That’s just sloppy staff work, that’s an embarrassment.”
Senator Cantwell’s office had been short-staffed for the holidays, but it is inexcusable for such a slip-up to occur. How hard can it be, especially considering our so-called representatives use form letters for most of their correspondence with us, to get the right name on it?
Cantwell’s staffers have said they are looking into the “mistake.” But what of Senator Cantwell? What effort is she making to correct this slight from her office to the family of a fallen soldier?
Senator Cantwell, identified as “other woman” in a lobbyists divorce a few years ago, has created a reputation for herself for placing more prurient interests above others, is a liberal Democrat who votes almost lock-step with a progressive agenda. Her support of our Troops in war seems to shift along with who is in the White House.
Regardless, how much effort does it really take to ensure her office at least gets the name right on a letter of condolence?
Sgt. Collins’ family also feels slighted by hearing Obama could call Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie to thank him for giving convicted dog abuser Michael Vick another chance with a dog, but couldn’t even have a White House staffer call the family of a fallen soldier to express condolences.
Senator Cantwell is supposed to be closer to Washington State families, though. The soldiers give their all for our freedoms and their families pay a high price, especially for those who killed in the service of our country.
We elect these people to represent us and pay them handsomely with an overly generous benefit package.
Is it too much to expect the families of fallen soldiers at least receive a personal note of condolence or a call from them?
UPDATE: Senator Cantwell's office released the following statement today, Dec 3, 2011:
"Senator Cantwell has the greatest respect for Sergeant Sean M. Collins' service and the deepest sympathy for his family's tremendous loss. Senator Cantwell has spoken with both of the fallen soldier's parents to convey her respect and deepest sympathies. Our office hopes that this error will not overshadow this bright young man's service to our country nor cloud the respect Senator Cantwell has for the Collins family and her heartfelt sorrow for their loss."