Letters to the Editor (LTEs) are an excellent way of engaging in a much broader way with the community on the election or election related topics.   Veterans are often viewed as community leaders.  We can offer a highly respected point of view on topics as varied as Presidential Leadership, National Security, Veterans Issues, Immigration, Military Spending, and much more.  Your perspective as a Vet is important when confronting those who peddle intolerance, injustice or other un-American values.  Vets stand for freedom.  Preserving what is best about America is the most common reason for serving our country.

Letter writing improves with practice.  If you’re writing your first LTE, it may be challenging and take time.  You’ll improve with practice and really find satisfaction in the effort.  Here are some things to consider:

Why it’s important to write Letters to the Editor (LTE’s)

  • Papers print what they consider important.
  • The volume of letters on a subject signals pubic interest.
  • Your letter adds perspective to what’s in the news and important (i.e., even if not printed, your letter influences future stories and the publishing of other letters offering similar perspectives).
  • Your letter presents the Veteran’s perspective.

Letters tips & news hierarchy

  • Read the paper!  It’s important to know what aspects of the Presidential Campaign are being reported on.
  • Letters that get published almost always are ones that respond to current events, i.e. write about a story you’ve just read in your paper.  That is where the opportunity lies.
  • Look for the best opportunities.  
    • Editorials – responding to a printed editorial is one of the best.  The Editorial page and letters is the ongoing dialogue the paper has with it’s readers.
    • Front Page Stories - this is what is most important to the community today.
    • Staff written columns (as opposed to nationally written columns).  This is the papers local investigation/focus of the news.
    • Locally written Op-Eds
    • Editorial cartoons
    • Syndicated columnist
    • Other writers Letters to the Editor
    • Stories in other parts of the paper

How do I write an LTE? (The LTE Formula)

  • Know the preferred format of the paper (ie word limit, information about you – ie name and city minimum).  Try to fit their format, especially on word limits.
  • Reference the story or column you are responding to at the start of your letter.  You can use the story headline in the “subject” line of your email.  Here is an example of a subject line:  Re: Hillary Clinton supports vets, 9/25/2016
  • Transition to what you want to say
  • Action you want taken (ie Support Candidates that support good veteran’s healthcare)
  • Closing – you can be creative or witty here, tie the letter up or refer back to the original subject.
  • Try not to be offensive, overly polarizing, a lecturer or highly judgmental.  Be respectful, thoughtful and offer your perspective in a way that would be persuasive even to those who may initially disagree with you.
  • Mention in your letter that you are a vet.  The public has a lot of respect for the “vet” perspective.
  • Have a friend (or spouse) check your grammar and that your letter makes sense.  Need another viewpoint?  Send your final draft to us and we’ll look it over before you submit it.  Send to georgia.veterans.united@gmail.com
  • You can have some fun with Letters to the Editor by forming a letter-writing party.  Get a group together to write letters.  More letters increase the likelihood that one of the letters will be published.  Don’t worry if it’s not yours.  You letter helps portray an issue as important, even if it’s not the one published.

Things to say (or not to say)

  • Include your name, address, phone number and email address.  You may be called to verify you are who you say you are before it is published.
  • Identify yourself as a vet (i.e., “As a vet I think …”  “As a former member of the US Navy …”  “As an Iraq War Vet …” )

If you get published

  • You can leverage your letter if it’s printed.  Share it on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).  
  • Send a copy to us so that we can share it more widely.  Send a link or pdf of the article to us at georgia.veterans.united@gmail.com.

What’s Next?

  • Do you enjoy writing letters?  Are you good at writing?  Are you being published?  Try your hand at writing Op-Eds, which are longer pieces where you choose the topic.  Or your topic could be a topic you’ve discussed with your local Editor as interesting to the paper and/or community.