Friday, March 16, 2012

The Value of the Written Word

Over the past few weeks I have received a lot of mail from various people in pretty high positions in the Government and the military as well as in various business categories. I have noticed an alarming trend in many of these which is to ignore writing errors. Spelling has flown out the window; punctuation is so bad that in some cases it is almost impossible to know the intention of the writer; and often they change tense or subject within the same sentence. I know we all make occasional mistakes, but for the most part, these are a one-off error. One error in message can be overlooked, twenty such errors are just careless and to my mind disrespectful of the recipient.

I know from my many years as a writer and an advocate that to be able to write a good and coherent letter, regardless of whether it is in the form of an email or snail-mail, makes the best impact on the reader. When mistakes are made, sometimes glaring mistakes, it lowers the credibility of the writer. Years ago, before we had computers to do so much for us, we relied on a dictionary and our own skills from our school days. There was then some excuse for poor writing skills, as not everyone had the advantage of good schooling. However, there is little excuse now, as even the most rudimentary word processing program has a spell checker and some type of correction for correct syntax.

The point I am making here is that in communication with anyone, either at the VA, the DoD or your Congressman, good writing is essential if you wish to appear a competent caregiver. I understand that for some, dyslexia or English as a second language may be a problem. However, you should be able to find someone to proof read your mail before risking sending something which is full of errors of spelling and grammar.

I do attribute this, in part, to the amount of texting and chat room use, where people tend to ignore mistakes. However, I am not talking about these relaxed and social interactions. For a formal communication, much more care needs to be taken if you are going to appear credible. As valuable advocates for our Vets it is important we do all we can to make our point clearly and concisely.


  1. Excellent points, VetFriend. Civility is so rare that when you use it, it makes your point stronger and more likely to be heard. Thank you for making this critical observation. ~Linda

  2. I agree that errors should be corrected as much as possible. However, I am severely Dyslexic and have to count on spell check. As far as grammar goes, I do the best I can. A long time ago, I stopped caring about my errors. As I grew in knowledge and experience, I knew what I had to say may be of importance. So please forgive my grammar and spelling errors and try to find the meaning in my words. To ask me to use proper gramar and spelling is the same as taking away my right to speak freely as I lack the capablility to always be gramatically and correct in spellings. I have found that since I no longer care about my Dyslexia showing, I enjoy communications. I envy those of you that have the ability to write well (good?) (better?)