ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army is apologizing to family members of fallen soldiers for sending thousands of letters that all began with the placeholder "Dear John Doe."

In December, Army Human Resources Command sent about 7,000 letters about private organizations that help families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army announced Wednesday.

But the names of the families did not transfer when the contractor that printed the letters combined them with a list of the families’ addresses, said Human Resources Command spokeswoman Shari Lawrence.

Army officials are looking into how the error occurred, said Lawrence, who declined to name the contractor.

She also explained the reason so many letters were sent out is that some went to more than one family member.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey is sending personal letters to each family member who received a "John Doe" letter, the news release said.

Stars and Stripes was unable to get a copy of the letter Casey is sending families by deadline Wednesday.

Human Resources Command also issued a formal apology Tuesday, the news release said.

"There are no words to adequately apologize for this mistake or for the hurt it may have caused," Brig. Gen. Reuben D. Jones, Army adjutant general, said in the news release.

"It is important the original intent of the letter is not lost," Jones said. "The organizations mentioned are dedicated to honoring loved ones and recognizing their sacrifice and commitment."

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