(IMPORTANT! For how to find out where to contact your elected officials, please follow HERE for links.)
Methods for making contact with your congressional delegation:
- Face-to-face interactions such as setting up a meeting at your Congress Member’s office or attending a public meeting where you can speak directly with your congressional representative.
- Telephone calls (Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202)224-3121 and ask for your Senators’ and/or Representative’s office.)
- Written correspondence sent via mail.
- Comments made on a Congress Member’s blog
- Comments made on a Congress Member’s Facebook page or to twitter account.
(Please note that we do not recommend faxing as an effective method of contacting Members of Congress.)
We recommend before having a face-to-face meeting with your Member of Congress, or prior to calling the Member’s office, that you make a written outline of what you are planning to discuss and that you be clear about the message that you want to convey. Review your plan thoroughly before making contact. You will only have a short amount of time to get your point across so you’ll need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively in an organized manner.
Points to remember when making written contact with your Members of Congress:
- Be polite. Be honest. Don’t use slang. Spell correctly. Don’t write in all capital letters.
- Make the correspondence personal rather than using form letters. Include your name, address, and ZIP code so the staff can verify you are a constituent of the Member of Congress. Thoughtful, personalized constituent messages generally have more influence than a large number of identical form messages. Typically, congressional staff members will assume that the more time and effort a constituent takes to communicate, the more passionately the constituent cares about the issue of concern.
- Keep it short, no more than one page long. The best format is to keep your letter to two brief, concise paragraphs. In the first paragraph you should identify yourself, state your affiliation (if any) and your primary concern. In the second paragraph, you should explain why your concern is important and worthy of attention. End with your postal address as described in the second point mentioned above
- Be specific, stay on point. Don’t wander or be generic.
- Be Informative. Congressional offices do not have the resources to research every topic that concerns their constituents. Often a constituent will bring a new issue to their attention, requiring staff to do research so as to be able to discuss and respond to it. For this reason, quality messages will contain specific information about the issue which is being discussed.
In terms of Congress, we normally suggest that you limit your efforts to contacting your own Representative and two Senators. Members of Congress get thousands of messages every month so normally they are so busy interacting with their own constituents that they are unable to give attention to messages originating from non-constituents. In the matter of Sergeant Bergdahl, however, it could be beneficial to contact members of the appropriate House and Senate Armed Services subcommittees. In this case, your written message has a better chance of reaching your intended recipient if it is sent via mail rather than by email. In the first line of your letter, you need to state “I am contacting you because you are a member of the (Senate Armed Services Committee) (House Armed Services Committee).” Follow HERE for names of those on the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.
Below is are samples letters that several Bowe Supporters have written to their Members of Congress. You should NOT copy these letters word for word. Letters unique to you are far superior to form letters It’s better if you take the points presented in the letters and adapt them to your own circumstances.
In the first letter below, the address format is for Senators. The following is the address format for Representatives:
The Honorable (full name)
(Room #) (Name) House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative (name):
Sample letter to a Senator:
The Honorable (full name)
(Room #) (Name) Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator (last name):
As you are aware, Sergeant Bowe R. Bergdahl, United States Army, has been held captive by Taliban allied insurgents since 30 June 2009. Press releases by official representatives of both government and the military have stated that the search for Sergeant Bergdahl continues and that all that can be done to return him to the United States is being done. Unfortunately, given that Sergeant Bergdahl has been held captive by enemies of America for over three years, these assurances are beginning to ring hollow to those who are advocating for him. I understand that obtaining his release is challenging due the complexity of the situation that he is in. It is difficult to understand, however, why the force of the most powerful nation in the world has failed to accomplish his release. This failure sends a terrible message to all who serve in America’s Armed Forces as well as to their families and to the Nation as a whole. The hundreds of thousands of supporters of Sergeant Bergdahl across our country have been waiting for real results in the effort to bring him home yet have been sadly disappointed. We are seeking the committed and visible support by our Members of Congress in the effort to obtain Sergeant Bergdahl’s release.
Senator (name), it is my sincere hope that you will support any opportunity that might present itself to obtain Sergeant Bergdahl’s release. Further, I would hope that any political differences between parties that could affect him negatively would be set aside for his sake- his life depends on it. I also ask that you educate your entire staff about Sergeant Bergdahl’s plight. Further, please share his story with as many people as you are able to. Finally, please encourage your colleagues in Congress to also actively support Sergeant Bergdahl and to support any opportunity to gain his freedom. This young soldier needs your voice as he cannot speak for himself. I am counting on you to do these things because they are the right thing to do.
(your full name)
(your phone number)
The Honorable Patty Murray
988 Jackson Federal Building
915 2nd Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98174
Dear Senator Murray:
Army Sergeant Bowe R. Bergdahl has been a prisoner of the Taliban for nearly three and a half years. I have closely followed the details of his situation for quite awhile now. I’m very concerned that he continues to be held captive. I know that I’m not alone in my concern. I realize that there are details that the general public doesn’t know that are likely going on in secrecy- I do hope so. I respectfully ask that you would be an advocate for Sergeant Bergdahl and that you would support every opportunity that would present itself to bring him home. Senator Murray, I’m counting on you to do this. Supporting Sergeant Bergdahl is the right thing to do.
The Honorable Saxby Chambliss
United States Senate
416 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1004
Dear Senator Chambliss,
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, I know that you are fully informed on the situation of Sergent Bowe Bergdahl. I have two sons serving in the United States Army. Having a child taken prisoner by hostile forces is one of the worst nightmares a parent could face. I have great compassion for Sergeant Bergdahl’s family as well as for Sergeant Bergdahl himself. I have read reports stating that there were negotiations for Sergeant Bergdahl’s release attempted earlier in the year but they fell through. In reading these reports, it seems to me, however, that obtaining Sergeant Bergdahl’s release is secondary to the desires to begin peace talks with the Taliban. It appears that Sergeant Bergdahl’s release is being used as a means to an end and not being viewed as a stand alone goal. By using Sergeant Bergdahl’s release as a means to an end, there runs a great risk that any effort or opportunity to obtain his release would become mired in political wranglings. Neither I nor thousands of other Americans who are advocating for Sergeant Bergdahl’s rescue want to see this happen. I am asking you to please keep Sergeant Bergdahl’s rescue a top-level priority and not secondary goal. I would also ask that you would publicly advocate for Sergeant Bergdahl and ask your fellow Congress Members to do the same. Please support every and all opportunities to obtain his release.
(email below to Representative Bill Huizenga of Michigan)
Dear Congressman Huizenga,
I would like to bring to your attention to the only American service member serving in Afghanistan who is being held captive by enemy forces. I’m quite sure that you have heard about him but I would like you to understand how important it is for you to publicly show your support for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. I want to be confident that you will actively support efforts to gain his freedom and that you’ll urge your colleagues in Congress to do this also. This is very important to me as well as to many others who are seeking Sgt. Bergdahl’s release. Thank you.
(The following is directed to United States Representative Robert E. Andrews of New Jersey)
Honorable Robert E. Andrews,
SGT Bowe Bergdahl has been held captive for 177 weeks = 1239 days = 29,736 hours = 3 yrs + 4 mo + 3 wks T O O L O N G He needs to come home and I am writing this letter with high hopes that when I voted for you, I did not misjudge the kind of man you are. Please do all in your power to help make this happen. Wake up the powers that be and have them realize that this man’s family needs him! Thank you for your time. Please help.
Follow HERE to find out who your Members of Congress are. Click on the name that you want and it will take you to a page that lists contact info for that person.