We provide the following essay about writing to your congress person. In addition we include sample letters, which you can edit or use as is. CLICK HERE to by-pass this essay and go to Sample Letters. These sample letters address some of the items raised by the opponents of HR-154. The letters request that they support our legislation for the U. S. Merchant Mariners of WWII – House bill HR.154.
HOW TO WRITE A LETTER TO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Writing a personal letter to your representatives in Congress is an effective way to let your voice be heard. When done well, a carefully crafted, concise letter is a powerful tool that can influence lawmakers and bring about change. Nonetheless, congressional leaders are incredibly busy, so take the time and put forth the effort to make your letter well-written and powerful.
- Write a carefully crafted concise letter.However, we have found that staff will monitor email over hard copy letters or fax’s. We have also found that USPS mail to Washington, DC goes through screening which delays delivery. Letters do take more effort, both to send and to receive, than e-mail messages. Congressional staff members are extremely busy with many influences working to get their attention. This factor, regarding attention conflicts, is why we strongly recommend follow-up phone calls. Ask for the Legislation adviser, or the chief of staff, or veteran’s affairs adviser – call their office to get the email address of the selected staff member. Now back to letter writing.
- State your purpose.
Be specific. Keep your letter focused by addressing only one issue or topic, and state your main purpose in the opening paragraph of your letter.
- Make your letter personal.
Keep your letter unique; don’t just copy a form letter and send it. Sending one hundred (or even one million) copies of the same letter is not an effective way to communicate the real concerns of real people. Instead, write a personal letter, from your heart. Make sure to introduce yourself, and explain who you are. If there is a particular reason (such as professional or personal credentials or experience) that you are qualified to address the topic you are writing about, say so.
- Support your stance.
Be informed when you write your letter, and as you write, be honest and accurate in the information you present. Use specific statistics, numbers, or examples.
- Make your request.
Indicate the specific action that you would like the representative to take, and by when (if applicable). For example, indicate whether you are writing in favor of our legislations, and state what you hope that the representative will do. Be sure to identify the bill numbers correctly.
- Remain professional and courteous.
No matter how upset you might feel, be courteous and professional. Again, it is perfectly acceptable (even preferable) to show your passion for the topic in your writing, but that does not mean you should resort to mud-slinging, name calling, swearing, or similar tactics.
- Keep your letter clear and concise.
As you write, don’t resort to waxing flowery or being long-winded. Your representatives are busy; make their lives easier by stating clearly and concisely what you want, why, and by when. Generally, you should keep your letter to one page.
- Close your letter.
Close your letter by restating your purpose for writing the representative and repeating your request for action. Then thank the person for taking the time to read your letter.
- Know to whom to send your letter.
Send your letter to your local representatives. You may think it worthwhile to really let your voice be heard by sending a letter to every member of Congress, but they will likely forward the letter on to your local officials (who in turn may get quite annoyed at receiving dozens of copies of the same letter from the same person).
You can find the name and address of your representative by going to Congress.org OR listed in this issue of the NEWS. When addressing your letter, use the following format:
For Your House Representative:
The Honorable (full name)
District office address
Dear Representative (last name):
- Proofread your letter.
Before you sign and seal your letter, make sure to proofread it first. Ensure that you have not left out any important, pertinent information. If you’ve repeated yourself or if something isn’t as clear as it could be, revise. After making any necessary changes, read over your letter one more time to check for spelling, punctuation, grammar, and other errors.
- Know that your vote counts.
Congressional leaders exist to serve you, a representative of the American people. Most of them truly want to represent faithfully the concerns of those they serve. And they understand that without your vote, and that of others like you, they will not remain in office. Moreover, because representatives receive relatively few personal letters, your letter may hold more sway than you think. So write with confidence!
- Include your name, address and telephone number.
Be sure to include your name, complete mailing address and telephone number on the letter.
- Using email to send this carefully crafted, concise letter to your targeted lawmaker.
Choice#2 (Submitted by Leo Selvey of AMMV Southwest Florida Chapter)
AMMV Members at Large – Send a compelling story to your local congressperson
Choice#3 (Excerpted from an article in the American Legion Magazine by Harold Hudson, AMMV Central California Chapter)
General Letter of Support for HR154 (Discusses high losses)
Choice#4 (Submitted by Clinton Quirk, AMMV Member at Large)
General Letter of Support for HR154 (Discusses government waste)
Choice#5 The Navy League has made it possible for us to invite you to their website to send a letter directly to your Congressional Representatives – this action will take you to another website. Use the included Navy League letter as a Base. We encourage you to edit as desired, and add any personal views you may have about how this issue affects you, your community, and our national security. We urge you to add a personal touch–it will make the letter stronger! Please delete any information that you do not wish to include, such as being a member of the Navy League – they do not require you to join. CLICK HERE.