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Family of fallen soldier warmed by letters from friends and strangers, stung by slights from U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and President Obama

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Dec. 30, 2010 at 4:05 pm with 6 Comments »
December 30, 2010 4:39 pm

The parents of a Yelm soldier killed in Afghanistan earlier this month have received cards from friends and strangers expressing condolences, and they’re grateful for the support.

“As a father of someone killed, it is overwhelming,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Collins (Ret.). His son, Sgt. Sean Collins, was buried Wednesday at the Tahoma National Cemetery.

Among that outpouring of empathy, two politicians inadvertently stung the family.

One slight came in a letter of condolences the family received from the office of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

At first, the Collins family appreciated that Cantwell had taken the time to send a letter acknowledging their son’s sacrifice.

But the letter misidentified the slain soldier in its last paragraph, which reads:

“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.”

The letter was dated Dec. 20 and delivered to Sean Collins’ mother, Linda Collins of Yelm. The error conveyed to the family that Cantwell had sent a form letter.

“They couldn’t even proofread it,” she said. “I’m sure if her son had died, she would’ve at least wanted his name spelled correctly.”

“That’s just sloppy staff work, that’s an embarrassment,” Patrick Collins said. He has not yet called Cantwell’s office to ask for an apology.

Cantwell’s office is on short staffing for the holiday week and has not replied to an email to its press staff. The Collins family was in touch with Cantwell’s office in the capital Thursday, and was told Cantwell’s staffers were looking into the mistake.

The other slight came when Patrick Collins called the White House and asked to have President Obama call his ex-wife, Linda, to talk about their son.

He was told that Obama did not regularly make phone calls to the families of fallen soldiers.

Later, Patrick Collins read a story about Obama’s phone call to Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie. Obama reportedly praised Lurie for giving quarterback Michael Vick a second chance to play football after serving time in prison for running a dog fighting ring.

“That burns,” Patrick Collins said Thursday.

“Any soldier that gets killed in action, you’d think the president would be calling someone in the family. There’s no politics in it. His predecessor did it,” Collins said.

Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. Am I the only one that thinks this post feels like Fox News?

  2. hortonpeak says:

    Nope.

  3. TERMN8OR says:

    I too have met with a complete lack of care on the parts of both President Obama and Senator Cantwell as well as Senator Murray. I am a disabled former Marine, service connected, but the VA refuses to grant my benefits to me. This despite the overwhelming amount of medical evidence from the VA’s own doctors, their own C&P (compensation and pension) Examiners and my civilian doctors. The VA has been withholding documents and evidence in my case for almost 25 yrs it was just recently revealed and has admitted to shredding evidence from my files as well. It has been systematicallly altering my medical records to say WHAT THEY want them to say, instead of what they ACTUALLy say and then have been using the now altered records to then deny my benefits. The VA has been doing this for over 20+ yrs now. When I finally went to my elected officials (see above) the 2 Senators for all intents and purposes simply took the VA’s “word” that I was just a “misinformed” veteran who “didn’t know the law”. And President Obama, despite my sending him 3 letters, never even acknowledged ONE of them let alone do anything. My story can be found at Yahoo Groups at DISABLED VETERANS DENIED VA BENEFITS. I have posted the undisputable evidence to include my actual medical records, VA, Military AND civilian as well as the letters and documents between myself, the VA and the aforementioned elected officials. It will shock you when you read it and then look at the evidence I have posted. I know “the law” better then any of the VA reps that I have spoken to as well as the aids that work for the Senators. I have become WELL aquainted with Title 38 USC and the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) that governs the VA and I know ONLY TOO well what the VA can and cannot do. I was a law enforcement officer for almost 20 yrs and so AM familiar with “the law” even though it is the CFR and USC. All I had to do was study them same as any other law I had to study and know. So I am not suprised to hear of this latest “slight” to a soldier or his family by these heartless and careless elected officials. As for the comment made by the Presidents aid, well, that only goes to show where the Presidents Priorities lay and its NOT with us military persons OR our families. My heart goes out to that family and I personally thank them and their son for his, and their, sacrifice. As his giving the ultimate sacrifice shows, “Freedom is NOT free”. Perhaps President Obama and the Senator(s) would be better served to also read and remember this:” For those of us who fight and die for it, Life and Freedom have a flavor that you, the protected, shall never know”.

  4. papasan says:

    There is no passion equal to the passion of a soldier and, in most cases, his or her family. Especially when that soldier has sacrificed life or limb. As a veteran, I know this is true.
    But I also know something else that EVERY soldier, sailor, airman and Marrine knows. “Shit happens”.
    The family feels slighted by the misspelling of their sons name. Really? Yes, you’re hurt, yes, you feel a pain that nobody that has NOT experienced it can relate to. Yes, you want answers. Yes, you are hurt. But because of a typo?
    Their pain, suffering and grief are very real, but misdirected. Angry because the President called a football team owner instead of you? Maybe. But, it’s a stretch.
    By no means do I intend to lessen the impact of their grief or the sacrifice made by Sean. Sean died while on a mission that he was given by his superior officers. He was doing his job and, I’m sure, doing it to a high level of professionalism. He deserves our thanks, our respect and our gratitude, as does his family. There is no letter and no phone call that will replace that.
    To Sean’s family, I send my deepest condolences and sympathy. The entire Nation grieves for him and EVERY soldier that is lost in war, or in peace for they do a job that can’t or won’t be done by many. I hope that you find peace.

  5. jbullat says:

    True colors! Vick beat puppies on the ground until they had bllood running out of their ears, nose and mouth then fed them to the adult dogs to get a tasste of blood and this is now Obama’s hero. After all, all Sean did was die for his country!

  6. I do accept as true with all of the concepts you have offered to your post. They are really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for starters. May just you please lengthen them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

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