CBS: Most families who lose a loved one in the war zones receive a letter of condolence from the President of the United States. But there are a few who do not receive this honor. It’s long standing policy – going back many years – that troops who commit suicide in war do not get the president’s acknowledgment.

The CBS Evening News first reported on this last week, and tonight we have learned the White House is changing the policy…. “I had doubts – many, many doubts,” Gregg Keesling said. “We are very pleased.” Last week, Keesling got the call he’d waited nearly two years to receive from the White House. He learned his family’s long wait for acknowledgement from the commander-in-chief was almost over. “My oldest son came down and we had a hug and it was very emotional,” Keesling said. “It was a very good moment that this has been worth it.”

Since the suicide of his son, 25-year-old Army Specialist Chance Keesling, in Iraq, Gregg and his wife Jannett, have fought to receive a condolence letter. They’ve written to the president, and asked their local congressmen for help.

Keesling’s now been told he’ll receive some kind of recognition from the White House – though not an official presidential condolence letter – in memory of his son.

… Under a decades-old White House policy, inherited by the Obama administration, military families received letters from the president only if their loved ones died on the battlefield or in accidents in war zones. Now, the policy is changing, Gregg Keesling told us recently, and for families like his, the acknowledgement is long overdue.

… The new policy goes into effect starting today, which is why the Keesling family will not receive an official presidential condolence letter. Their son, Chance, died in 2009. We’re told the policy affects all military families whose loved ones die in war zones, regardless of how they died….

More here

Thanks Fred


Statement from the President:

“As Commander in Chief, I am deeply grateful for the service of all our men and women in uniform, and grieve for the loss of those who suffer from the wounds of war — seen and unseen. Since taking office, I’ve been committed to removing the stigma associated with the unseen wounds of war, which is why I’ve worked to expand our mental health budgets, and ensure that all our men and women in uniform receive the care they need.

“As a next step and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the military chain of command, I have also decided to reverse a long-standing policy of not sending condolence letters to the families of service members who commit suicide while deployed to a combat zone. This decision was made after a difficult and exhaustive review of the former policy, and I did not make it lightly. This issue is emotional, painful, and complicated, but these Americans served our nation bravely. They didn’t die because they were weak. And the fact that they didn’t get the help they needed must change. Our men and women in uniform have borne the incredible burden of our wars, and we need to do everything in our power to honor their service, and to help them stay strong for themselves, for their families and for our nation.”

40 Responses to “condolence”

  1. 1 nintendowii10
    July 6, 2011 at 11:18 am

    This President cares! God bless this man.

  2. 2 meta
    July 6, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Good morning, everyone.

    OK, TODer Twitter Brigade, we need you. Rusty is out there tweeting all kinds of BS ugliness at PBO using #askobama. Hit him back:


    Let’s start a new hashtag: #askboehner

    Let’s go.

    • 3 meta
      July 6, 2011 at 11:36 am

      Here’s a couple samples of Rusty’s nasty tweets this morning:

      SpeakerBoehner Speaker John Boehner
      Republicans #askobama to outline plan #4jobs that doesn’t involve more spending, taxing, regulating http://j.mp/o1bpzE @townhall

      SpeakerBoehner Speaker John Boehner
      With 9.1% unemployment & “shovel ready” jobs a bust, will you admit the ‘stimulus’ was a mistake? http://bit.ly/oTK17f #askobama

  3. 4 Perry
    July 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

    A life lost is a life lost…does not matter how it happened. I am glad our President felt the need to change this policy…

    • 5 Allison
      July 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      I’m truly touched by PBOs empathy and this decision. His statement moved me to tears. He is an amazing president. I’m all in! 2012!

  4. 6 askew
    July 6, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Everyone needs to start posting reasonable questions on #AskObama. The conservatives are asking revolting questions right now including one where they insulting Sasha’s weight.

    • 7 meta
      July 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      I just hit back on that disgusting idiot. Notice her tweet page has a photo of her pointing a gun. Ugly creep.

      • 8 askew
        July 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm

        I replied back to her as well trying to shame her. But, I doubt someone like that is capable of shame.

    • July 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      I just read some of the tweets askew, my God the levels of hate and racism are beyond belief.

      • 10 askew
        July 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm

        It really is disgusting. They are personally attacking his children and his wife and then there are the GOP politicians who are accusing him of not doing his job. Considering that Boehner’s house hasn’t passed one bill to help jobs this session that is rich.

        • 11 meta
          July 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm

          Yeah, it’s really disturbing and disgusting. I have to take break. But you know, that’s all they got. Can’t fight back with the truth or any semblance of dignity. That hairball of ugly is all they’ve got.

          • 12 meta
            July 6, 2011 at 12:27 pm

            Right-wing Reps and pundits have now infiltrated the #askobama twitstream with hideous garbage. UGH.

    • July 6, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      There are idiots in this world, we just have to face it. What kind of man or woman picks on a child? A low down dirty dumbass rat.

  5. 14 HZ
    July 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Good Morning Chipsticks and TOD family. This is a disgracceful group of people who have no hope of a fruitful life that produces goodness. We will continue to write, call, twit(I am still learning) and working in our communities to bring forth the good about our President and this family. And one place where it has being growing is through Chipsticks and BWD. I am ill again, but NOT giving in to the pain, rather trying to focus, preparing for my work with events and helping in any manner that I am able to . Hate, ugly, mean spirited people will be with us until we finish our first term and finish our second term. So we will support each other, love our President and family and work hard to be strong as we possibily can with this ugly group. These are some hateful people. It is all about President Obama in that Oval Office. I am old enough, and I have NOT seen the likes of this type of hatred EVER toward a President in that Oval Office in my lifetime. NOT EVER. BUT we can and will continue to move on and be strong for him. He needs our support. We have intelligent, sstrong fighters here, and we can do this job. Take hope and continue to fight hard. I love you back. I am writing letter today even on my sick bed. We can do this, okay.

    • 15 desertflower
      July 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm

      We CAN do this, and we WILL! Failure is not an option. I’m sure that I can speak for all of us, and wish you well and give you strength to begin to feel better.You have an amazing spirit that shines through…you are truly an inspiration to all of us to keep fighting every.single.day.Hugs to you,HZ.Thinking of you.

      • July 6, 2011 at 1:17 pm

        HZ – Will think of you today – sending healing thoughts and prayers your way. Hope you’ll feel better as you continue to channel your own thoughts out to others. {{HZ}}

        • 17 HZ
          July 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm

          Thank you so much vcprezofan2. I feel all of your thoughts and beautiful healing spirits coming my way. But I have not left the job, HZ is still trying to be faithful to my family. I went to an event to help out on Monday nearby and it was great. I was on my feet a little longer than suppose. But you all better not tell my cardiologist. Ok. Love you all so much.

      • 18 HZ
        July 6, 2011 at 3:55 pm

        You are so appreciated by my spirit, desertflower. Thanks so much. No matter what, I will continue to put my thoughts and actions into our goal. I have bed trays all over the areas where I can take my laptop, so it makes it nice. However, the pain is so severe so I make take a time out. But I am going to make it. I always continue to fight no matter what. I appreciate our work here, so we will not allow any negative space to keep our bodies, minds and spirits down. Thanks desertflower.

    • 19 sam uk obama supporter
      July 6, 2011 at 1:36 pm

      HZ I admire and respect your incredible spirit and send healing thoughts your way. I am sorry to hear that you are sick and wish you well

      I also intend to do all I can to help enlighten people as to the greatness of President Obama and shall continue to love and support him unconditionally. The level of hatred aimed at him has on many occasions brought me to tears of frustration and sadness but nothing will change my committment to work towards a second Obama term. Never before in my life has a person inspired me as much as Barack does and never before have I shed tears for a President or any other leader or famous person. The feelings of admiration, respect, inspiration and yes love, I have for this man are unbelievable. I love the spirit on TOD and know that we all have PBO’s back.
      YES WE CAN overcome the hate and vitriol, meanspiritedness and GOP lies. YES WE WILL fight, fignt, fight for a second term.

      God bless you all and God bless President Barack Obama!

      • 20 HZ
        July 6, 2011 at 4:04 pm

        Sam uk obama supporter, this is what keeps me going. Thank you so much for your kind thoughts. I really like your spirit. We will get the job done because we know what we have to fight for during this Presidency. I shsare your times of tears, frustration and sadness, as you mention, but you are so correct, we will continue to move on and Yes We Will fight and Yes We Will Win a second term. Count on it. Thanks so much sam uk obama supporter.

        • 21 sam uk obama supporter
          July 6, 2011 at 5:25 pm

          Thank you for your kind words. Please take care of yourself and know you are in my thoughts and prayers tonight. I may not post much but I am with you all 100%.

    • 22 tally
      July 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      Big hugs HZ!!!!

      Feel better!!!

      *waves her Magic Shaman Wand (don’t laugh, I seriously have one.)


      ❤ ❤ ❤

      • 23 HZ
        July 6, 2011 at 4:06 pm

        Hi tally . Thanks so much. I wanted to write you on your wonderful article . Great. You write with such beauty and exactness. Keep it going because we need each other. Again, thanks somuch. We Have Got This! Hugs back to your space also.

    • 25 sjterrid
      July 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      Im sorry you are in pain, HZ. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and I hope you feel better soon.

      • 26 HZ
        July 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm

        Thanks you sjterrid. I will take your thoughts and prayers. I will feel better. I am a strong cookie, if there ever was one. I love my family here, and I will rest so that I can get on with the work that has to be done. Thank you again for your kindness.

  6. 27 tally
    July 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Once upon a time……, my Mom & Dad…… both born in TX, were Depression babies…

    My Dad grew up on a farm outside a small Texas town with a funny name that didn’t even have a stop sign, and volunteered for duty during WWII as every young man of the time did. He shipped off to Italy, and while attempting to save a wounded friend at a very horrid battle where the Axis had stored some munitions in a church, my Dad’s friend stepped on a land mine.

    My father woke up in a military hospital in North Africa with a gaggle of doctors standing over him. One Dr asked, “What’s your name soldier?” To which my father told them his name. All the doctors were surprised, and began talking amongst themselves for a bit. The Dr then asked my father, “What day is it?” My Dad thought, hmmm… I’m obviously wounded, so it’s probably been a couple of days, so he said, “Thursday, the 22nd.” The doctors were absolutely shocked by that response and began a rather heated exchange within their group, then finally the main Dr asked my father, “What month?” To which my father answered, “Oh shit.”

    My father had had amnesia for almost a month. He was injured in February, and woke up in March, and had answered correctly because March mirrors February as long as it’s not a leap year.

    He was sent stateside to recuperate in San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston.

    My mother was from the big city of San Antonio. At 17, because all the men had all gone off and enlisted, went with her two older sisters, lied about her age and the three of them joined the WACs because that was where the boys were.

    She met my Dad at a USO dance, while he was an out-patient from an Army psych unit because of the amnesia. So the crazy hick from the country married the Big City girl a month later, and my mother was found out to be a minor, and honorably discharged.

    I was a very very late baby. My parents had given up, after my Down’s Syndrome brother died, and my mother suffered a miscarriage. They went to Reno one weekend and had WCMS* and POOF – a daughter.

    My mother passed the day after Thanksgiving in 1999, with my father passing six months later from a broken heart.

    They were both buried at Riverside National Cemetery with full military honors.

    I never received my Condolence letter from President Clinton, and didn’t think to make the call until Bush Jr was in the White House. I told the person who answered the phone that I’d prefer Clinton’s signature since they passed during his Presidency, and was told that it would be the sitting POTUS. I said, “Never mind, I’ll wait.” I knew my parents would have been appalled by a Bush signature.

    I waited eight years, and finally put in the request the week Obama took the oath. I told that story to four people since they kept transferring me, “I want you to tell your story to my superior, hang on….” I ended up with several copies for both my Mom & Dad. 🙂

    I know my parents would be very proud I waited, and would be extremely proud of Obama.


    • July 6, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      I’m torn between laughter and tears here Tally, what an utterly beautiful story. I have no words. Thank you.

      • 29 tally
        July 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm

        😀 Thanks babe.

        They were pretty amazing. My Dad used to have two philosophies about BBQ (best steak griller on earth):

        1. Starve your guests until they’d eat cardboard and enjoy it. By then anything will taste good, and they’ll think you’re a culinary genius.

        2. Beer. Poured over steak while on (charcoal) grill. Preferably Budweiser.

        He was also known for playing Trivial Pursuit and kicking everyone’s ass to the point they’d never get a turn.

        I miss them both.

        Those of you with parents still with you, CALL THEM. It’s not their job to keep in contact with you, it’s YOURS. Their job is to prepare you to leave the nest. Your job is to not regret telling them you love them when you have the opportunity. If you don’t, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.

        • 30 utaustinliberal
          July 6, 2011 at 3:54 pm

          Oh Tally. What a beautiful story. I’m bawling like a baby not in sadness but at the amazing beauty in your story and in the response by the Obama White House. This is why we fight to defend this President everyday; because at his core, he is a decent, caring and compassionate human being. I always make sure to call and text my parents even in the maelstrom of college and I always make sure to tell them I love them, because we are never promised tomorrow. Once again thanks for the story tally and the reminder to hold those we love, just a little bit closer.

  7. July 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Tally what a beautiful story. Your parents were very special people and God granted them the best gift they could every receive…………YOU. I am so moved by your story and the intelligence you used in waiting for the right signature. They are so proud of you sitting where they are now, holding hands and thanking God for having such a bright child. You speak wisdom regarding making sure all is done for your parents before they leave this earth. I took care of my parents and did all I could through their latter years. I don’t regret a thing and know that I did everything I could for them and that gives me peace. You are so right about a grown child taking the responsibility to give back all they received from their parents. Bless you child. You speak truth.

    • 33 tally
      July 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      barb!!! *HUGS*

      Thank you so much for that!

      ❤ ❤ ❤

      • July 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm

        Tally, you are amazing, I enjoyed your story, God bless you real good :-). I’m going to visit my Mom on the 21st. of this month, In SC. She’s 87, however my Dad passed In 1989, but I was there by his side when he took his last breath. It makes me feel so good that I was there for him every week for Six straight weeks untill he dide. I flew on my days off every week from South Florida to SC. I must say, no guilt feelings here of any kind 🙂

  8. July 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    You are a true writer, you moved me yesterday with your truth post. Now today with the story of your parents. Please continue to write it means so much to me and the rest of this blog family of yours. Thank you for sharing you gift.

  9. 37 HZ
    July 6, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Yes, you are a beautiful writer as I stated above. I appreciate you sharing such a beautiful story about your lovely parents. Tally, you have move all of us in such a lovely manner that I am sure your parents would be so proud of you. I am proud of you being so generous in sharing with us. What beauty you spread around on this site with all of the rest of our family. Thank you again for this moment in my life from yours. You are a gracious person.

    • 38 tally
      July 6, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      *lays down on the floor, opens arms as wide as possible to hug my whole TOD family!!!

      ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤³ x ∞

      I am such a math geek. Well, I was until my first day of Trig when I learned everything I had been taught was a lie. Hmmm…. take a D in math, or be a cheerleader….. decisions decisions. Taking the D would have taken less a toll on my body in the long run, but people don’t tell you that dancing and being thrown in the air can come back to literally bite you in the ASS.


  10. 39 kefauver
    July 6, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    But Obama is no different than Bush! Or so the firebaggers keep telling me that. Meh.

  11. 40 Walking_on_ Sunshine
    July 7, 2011 at 1:18 am

    I never knew that these families didn’t receive condolence letters. This is such a compassionate and admirable action the President has taken. There will never be another leader like this. He has moral courage and I admire that so much.

Comments are currently closed.







Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.



RSS Obama White House.gov

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS WH Tumblr

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Steve Benen

  • Joe: GOP has damaged Congress by removing Rep. Omar from committee
  • How Russia is importing western products despite sanctions
  • Why Trump's 2024 campaign is anything but normal
  • Garry Kasparov: Putin's attempts to restore Russia's lost empire destined to fail
  • 'The Nazi Conspiracy' uncovers a little known WWII Nazi plot



Blog Stats

  • 43,331,118 hits

%d bloggers like this: