Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Readers say "maimed veterans'' was insensitive

Two readers have contacted me upset about how we referenced veterans in a headline on a local story we wrote Sept. 26. The story focused on veterans, many injured in the Iraqi war, who were learning to deal with their injuries, embrace life and learn to surf on the Central Coat. The headline read, “Maimed veterans rehab and play in Pismo surf.’’ A secondary headline said “Troops returning from Iraq with amputations or severe burns hit the water with a purpose.’’

Julie Dratwa of Arroyo Grande advised us to look up the word in the dictionary. “Though these boys came back from the war with injuries, they've come back stronger than most of the men and women I meet on the street … not one of them are defective or imperfect! They are heroic!”
Both readers believe we owe the veterans an apology.

The copy editor who wrote that headline chose it to describe the injuries that the veterans sustained in war. He noted that the official dictionary we use, Webster’s New World College Dictionary, defines maimed as an injury causing the loss or crippling of some necessary part of the body. No ill will – or slight to the troops -- was intended, according to News Editor Andy Castagnola. Rather, we covered this story, as we did far more extensively last year, to share with our readers these veterans’ spirit and drive to overcome their injuries and to continue to live purposeful lives. Our story itself discussed the troops’ decision to live and defy the odds, quoting at least one person as saying that he is learning to adapt and reuse his right arm after it was almost lost in an explosion. To be sure, the copy editor could have opted to say “injured veterans’’ instead. It’s less harsh. But then, war is harsh. And that’s the only message our copy editor was trying to get across. We apologize if any one interpreted this differently.

-- Sandra Duerr


Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying the use of that word. I read the article and saw no slight to the troops in using that word. Sadly, many people spend a lot of time trying to micromanage every word in the media lately, actively looking for evidence that the media doesn't support the troops. A much better focus would be to scrutinize the abysmal lack of care so many of our wounded troops are receiving once they return home.

proud american said...

You can easily tell when someone knows not one person in the military when they makes comments about their care as did the first blogger.

Idiotic statements like like are copy-npasted right the MoveOn website.

I suggest you get off the net for a day or two and do you own research.

My son-in-law was wounded in Iraq and has received the best care that money can buy.

It does make a difference when you have "skin in the game" or just have your head up your nether regions!

God bless our brave men & women in the military...making a sacrafice that drawfs even your ignorance.