December 10th, 2009
04:24 PM ET
8 months ago

Military condolence letter review to conclude 'shortly'

Washington (CNN) - The White House says its review of a long-standing policy not to send condolence letters to the families of military suicide victims should "hopefully" conclude "shortly."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president himself asked for the review, with Gibbs telling reporters at the White House briefing on Wednesday, "If the president didn't care, the policy would remain unchanged and unexamined."

The protocol dates as far back as the Clinton administration. But now, some military families, including the Keesling family of Indiana, believe the policy needs to be changed.

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Filed under: Obama administration
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Dr. Hannibal Lector

    Forget the letters, I would just like to see Gibbs grilled. I think extra well done would go down smoothly with a fine bottle of Chianti and some Fava beans....

    December 10, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Dutch/BadNewz, VA

    If an American service member commits suicide during a time of war, I blame nothing but the stress of combat. These brave men and women still serve our country honorably. The families need to be consoled just like every military family that has lost someone. Who put this policy in place anyway???

    December 10, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. an american first

    This is what is wrong about the media. They are pushing him on a bad policy that he is trying to correct. This reporter doesn't recognize that Pres. Obama is AGREEING WITH HER in that his administration is reviewing a current policy that is to NOT SEND LETTERS. In other words, HE WANTS TO SEND LETTERS TO THOSE FAMILY and that's why he is reviewing the policy.

    December 10, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. LacrosseMom

    EVERYONE's families should receive a condolence letter! Even those who commit suicide, they too are the victims of the war!

    December 10, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  5. phoenix86

    Hopefully someday a condolence letter will be sent to the Grayson family.

    December 10, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. rita

    Common sense has never seen the light of day in the U.S. military. When will they wake up from their long patriotic slumber and realize that war and conflict often cause these men and women to be afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder. Do we not appreciate the time that these people did serve? Do we think that these people aren't mentally suffering in some way? Do we think that they just killed themselves to make us mad? Do we think that they were just pushing our buttons? This is another twisted religious reaction they have adopted from christianity to deal with an obvious psychological disorder. I know that there is not much room in religion for science, but this is one policy that needs to change immediately. I am sickened that this policy has gone on for so long.

    December 10, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. EZ

    I think a family would appreciate a letter from our President. It's something that shows our President mourns with them and they are not forgotten.

    I know I would love a condolence letter from my President. It's the thought that matters.

    December 10, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    Of course the family should get a letter of condolence, only those that have been there, know what our troops see and go through while there.

    It is no sin if some decide they cannot continue.

    December 10, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. gary davis Harbor Oregon proud american

    the president will do as he has always done to this point review and do the right thing .. so lets move on .and start supporting him .. and the media needs to look for news worthy subjects and not Palin and newt crap .. they aren't even public servants .. both are a discrace to the public sector service .. BOO to both of them :)

    December 10, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  10. danel

    Why is this not brought up under Bush Administration? After all he started two wars.

    December 10, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. S Callahan ..make your life better read Psalm 51

    The letters are really symbolic of a caring America..they should be written and even personalized if possible. These are written legacies that someone's child/husband/mother/father/aunt/uncle/cousin, etc did not die in vain. It needs to continue!

    December 10, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. Dan, TX

    The American people are the root of all the problems in this country. The government simply reflects the decay of the morality of our society.

    Of course as someone who faces discrimination for being an atheist, I do expect that we treat all people with respect.

    December 10, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  13. dave

    I don't know what the letter says.If it states that the president thanks the family for the service of their son and offers condolences,sounds like they should get one. But if it mentions thanking the soldier for sacrifice or bravery i think it needs to be reworded. The only people who take their own lives are either cowards or mentally ill.

    December 10, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  14. Marie Laveaux

    This is an awful policy, and I hope the President changes it soon. A soldier who commits suicide while in the battle zone or after returning is, in my opinion, still a casualty of war. They have not diminished their service by taking their own life, and their families should know this and have our condolences. And by the way, anyone who thinks suicide is something to joke about is a jerk of the first order. (That would be you, phoenix 86!)

    December 10, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Obama administration policy"

    Nice caption CNN. Trying to stir up more "controversy" on the Ticker, I see. Newsflash: It's not his administration's policy. It's a long-standing policy dating back to before or during Clinton's presidency. Obama is the one who has decided to review it and determine if it makes any sense.

    December 10, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  16. kyle

    I think that this policy goes back to the military viewing these men and women as "military property". If you harm "military property", you will be dealt with in a punishing way. What better way to deal with the problem than to further dehumanize the victim after the fact.

    December 10, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  17. jules sand-perkins

    I have never been in any situation involving death where I could not find SSOMETHING to say–something good and comforting–regardless of the circumstances.

    Some letter should be sent.

    This also involves the provision by the government of adequate psychiatric observation and treatment for troops.

    If anybody is verbal enough to write a perfect letter for such an occasion, it is President Obama.

    December 10, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    I agree that this policy should be changed, and soon. Thank you, President Obama, for addressing this. My condolences to all the military families who have lost loved ones are a result of suicide.

    December 10, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  19. m smith

    Every one sounds so hostal. They do need a review. Isn't that what Gibbs has said. Suicide is a result of war . Letteres should be worded accordingly. The families are the ones left to suffer. The president will do the right thing .

    December 10, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  20. Pragmatic

    Rumsfield was supposed to sign letters to the family of fallen heroes ... ended up using a rubber stamp until he was found out .

    These men & women are volunteers ... they deserve all the respect we can give them ... no matter how they died.

    December 10, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  21. Preston kathy

    Preston and kathy i did one tour in vietman my nerves are still bad are troops are doing 3 tours i know a marine who did tours or irac he said mom my hands will not stop shakeing dor gods sake send out these letters

    December 11, 2009 08:02 am at 8:02 am |