Friday, January 17, 2014

A Letter from the President

Remember that time I wrote a letter to the President of the United States? Late last March, that's exactly what I did. It was the first time I'd written to any elected official as a registered voter. It's a letter that I sent not only to the president, but also to the two senators from Virginia and to my local congressman. I never expected to receive a response.

A few months ago, I received what amounted to a form letter from Senator Kaine's office. I assumed that would be the end of it. In fact, I'd pretty much put the letter I originally wrote out of my mind. Yesterday, I received a response from the White House.

If you don't want to click the above link to read my original words, you don't really have to. To sum up, I voiced my concerns regarding the state of social services in this country. Particularly, I was concerned with the state of Child Protective Services and their seeming inability to effectively protect children in our community. This letter, filled with my own frustrations, was written after witnessing a family of children continually get abused while CPS did nothing. Meanwhile, I've heard of a number of situations where CPS stepped in and removed children from good homes with parents who actually cared about their kids' well being. As a counselor, it breaks my heart to see these situations on either side of that coin.

I really expected nothing to come of the letter. I figured, at best, I would receive the same kind of form letter I got from Senator Kaine's office from several other elected officials. I expected nothing from the president.

The letter I received yesterday is typed. It was done so on December 26, the day after Christmas. If memory serves, the good people on the news said that the Obama family was in Hawaii at that time. While I've heard that President Obama does read a number of letters that arrive at the White House from time to time, I can't really assume he read mine.

But someone did. Someone read my specific concerns and specifically addressed them in this response. I can't say for certain that it was a staffer that wrote the letter. I suppose there is a possibility that the president himself wrote it. The writer makes it personal by saying "as a father," the well being of America's children are a high priority.

I can say with certainty that the letter was signed with ink. It wasn't stamped. So, at the very least, the president looked over the letter and gave his approval by putting his signature on it. The postmark on the envelope is from January 6. It arrived at my old post office box on the 14th before being forwarded to my current address, where it arrived yesterday, January 16. So my assumption is that someone on the president's staff wrote the letter the day after Christmas, gave it to the president for his approval once he returned from vacation, then dropped in the mail.

Again, I could be wrong. Maybe President Obama was sitting with Michelle and the kids the day after Christmas and said, "You know, I haven't heard from Aaron in a while. I should probably drop him a line." Yeah, I'm sure that's how it happened.

Whatever the case, I'm impressed by the response. My intent in writing the original letter was not to seek a sweeping change in the system. I just wanted my voice to be heard. This response does not represent a sweeping change in the system. It just lets me know that my voice was heard. For me, that's enough.


  1. It's really cool that you are concerned enough about this issue to speak up to elected officials. CPS really failed at helping me when I was younger, so I've tried to do my part in helping with the cause as well. As long as people keep talking and pushing, changes will happen. And I would totally frame that. :)