U.S.

June 14, 2013

When writing to Congress, follow rules for effective communication

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Maranda Flynn
Staff Writer

To-My-Fresher-Self
As a member of the military community, everyone has the right to contact their elected officials. Congress wants to hear their constituents’ concerns and opinions – and they should.

In order to communicate effectively and to increase the possibility of action, write a letter – but remember, follow specific guidelines.

At the very top of the letter, include your name and address. This enables the receiving office to confirm that the letter reached the correct district.
Summarize the main point and avoid irrelevant information, such as military history, certificates of achievement and previous newspaper articles. Unless absolutely necessary, do not include enclosures.

Daf Freudenberg, Fort Huachuca’s congressional liaison officer, advises that when writing to your elected official, keep the letter short and to the point. It should be no more than two pages long.

“The staffers in the elected official’s office don’t have time to go through the whole history … and some constituents do that,” she said. Do not let passion cloud the intent of the letter.

When addressing the elected official, refer to them as “The Honorable (Full Name),” and include their entire address on the envelope and at the top of the letter. Remember to always thank the official for taking time to consider your written request.

Expect a minimum of four to six weeks for a reply. For a faster response, in lieu of writing a letter, send an email. Follow the same guidelines as when writing a letter and avoid using “text slang.” Always maintain professionalism throughout.

“A lot of constituents are using email now,” said Freudenberg. “They can send email correspondence to the staffers in the elected official’s offices and they will receive email correspondence back instead of hard copy letters.”

Regardless of the correspondence purpose, never use profanity or threats. Always include your name and address, even in an email, and never “demand” a response. Like everyone else, elected officials deserve and appreciate respect.

While correspondence is most often complaint-based, positive feedback is always welcome. Freudenberg said, “I have handled congressional correspondence for Fort Huachuca since 1986, and almost all of the inquiries that come in have been complaints or requests for assistance.”

Generally, elected officials assist only those constituents who are from their district. To find out the contact information for your local elected official, visit http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.

The Fort Huachuca Congressional Liaison Office can provide guidance to anyone who wishes to write their elected officials. “Anybody that has an issue that has to do with Fort Huachuca can come here,” Freudenberg said. “But keep in mind that a congressman does not have authority to override or change an Army regulation.

“For any Soldier that is considering writing to their elected official, please use their chain of command. If they are not comfortable with their chain of command, there are many other resources that the installation offers to assist them. It is usually faster, and they can get the one-on-one that they deserve to resolve their issues,” added Freudenberg.

The Fort Huachuca Congressional Liaison Office is located in Building 41421. For information, call 533.1054.




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