Veterans Forum Invitation – Translator, Please.

Thank you to a great first time guest writer, Tricia Driscoll. Well said!

Written by Patricia Driscoll
March 24, 2011

My husband received an interesting letter from Representative Henry Cuellar last week. It was a seemingly heartfelt request for him to attend a Veterans forum to discuss benefits and other important items relating to military veterans and retirees. Sadly, my husband missed the forum completely. It was not because he didn’t want to go, or because he couldn’t find the time. It was mostly because he couldn’t read the letter. It was entirely in Spanish. We received the letter (dated March 16th) on March 20th. By the time he got around to translating it with the aid of modern technology and friends, the forum for Webb County was already over. It seems a little odd (to me) that veterans, all of whom were required to use English in the military, would be invited to a forum to discuss the benefits and issues affecting them in another language. All veterans speak English, in theory. However, not all veterans in South Texas speak Spanish. I’m married to at least one of them. It would have definitely made more sense to print the letter in both languages if attempting to appeal to a Spanish-speaking constituency. The ironic part of the letter? There are two sentences in English: one directing him to see the reverse for the schedule and the disclaimer that “This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense.” Now, THAT is funny.

Just because we live on the border, just because the majority living here are predominantly Spanish-speakers, just because it saves a few dollars… doesn’t mean the attempt to send out documents in both languages for this area should be ignored. The only thing I could think of for this oversight is that the translation was meant to be put in but forgotten. We try to give the benefit of the doubt but…

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Que Fregados is a quirky look at little things that strike us funny in Laredo and the unique Latino culture. Suggestions and comments are welcome. You can also email to quefregados@gmail.com.
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10 Responses to Veterans Forum Invitation – Translator, Please.

  1. ___ GI Joe (de Viet-nam says:

    ___we all received that junk letter, que decia ???

  2. Poncho1950 says:

    That seems very odd, that a Congressman would send out a letter in Spanish to U.S. veterans. I wonder whether it’s a misinformation campaign.

    • tricia driscoll says:

      I assure you it is not. We have called his office and left a message with a staffer requesting clarification and a letter in English. He has also received a letter via his official website requesting clarification. I have no political motives other than to identify if any other local veterans received the same correspondence and to help correct future communication procedures, if possible.

  3. Edmundo Duarte says:

    As a WWII vet I was not invited in English or Spanish for that matter, but any how I read it in the Laredo paper the note was in English and as I recall the forum was all in English

  4. tricia says:

    Mr. Duarte, thank you for the feedback. I imagine it is possible there was a mailing error that should be easy to correct. Thank you very much for your service during WWII.

  5. PaPa says:

    Hi Granddaughter,
    It is Soooooo Good to see that You are still on top of the Important Stuff !!!
    Keep them straight Honey ! You did Great in Your reply !!! If we had more citizens
    like You and Me, I believe We could make the “would be politicans” more Professional
    and Responseable in their job as ” Public Servants ” ! (of course; most of them don’t
    believe they are “Public Servants”)

    We Love You Honey,
    PaPa & (NaNa)

  6. critters and crayons says:

    QF- I just spoke with Sean Calloway, a staffer in Rep Cuellar’s office in DC- He indicated that the mailing was a mistake- The letter was supposed to be printed in both languages: English on one and Spanish on the other and that it was a printing company error. They used a mailing company to send out the letter. He indicated they will be sending an official response in the coming weeks.

  7. Lelo says:

    That’s kind of… messed up.

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