This is Charlie’s story; he is one of many Veterans who came home unappreciated and left with nothing to show for his years of dedication and service. Charlie’s story leaves me ashamed and angry especially at a time when our government talks of amnesty and rights for illegals! It is disgraceful and it is disgusting.
This is Charlie’s story:
‘My name is Charlie and I am a veteran. Today, I would like to share a “real life”, experience that I recently had with the United States Army. But I’m going to provide a little background first for a more proper introduction and so you will know more about me than just my name.
Like my father, and his father, I served my country because I love America and felt it was my duty to protect its people. I volunteered for combat twice during my service, deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and I have been engaged, on the ground, where “the axe meets the chopping block” and where things are just not nice.
I did well in the military and received awards, early promotions, service schools and other opportunities that I seized whenever possible. I even completed credit hours of college level coursework and maintained a 4.0 GPA in my first few years of service. I forgot to mention I didn’t graduate high school and entered the military with only a GED having dropped out of the ninth grade.
In 2012, after being selected above my peers for an advanced position (suite and tie job), I received orders to an overseas duty station for a “Hardship Tour”. I had been back with my family less than a year and my chain of command offered me three options in this situation. Reenlist for stabilization to stay in my new position, reenlist to have enough time left on my contract to take my family with me overseas, or sign a Declination of Continued Service Statement and end my career. I had sixteen months left in service and I chose none of the above and decided I would leave again for the third time in about three years.
About a month before I was to ship out my Step-Father passed away on the couch in the living room of his home. My Mother found him after returning from some errands and was utterly and completely devastated. She had to sit with his body and call Police/EMS, alone. I requested emergency leave and it was granted so a traveled to attended his funeral and tried to offer what comfort I could. Upon my return I shipped out within a couple of days.
Shortly into my overseas tour my son’s mother was tragically killed in an automobile accident. I immediately requested emergency leave again and was granted only eight days after receiving an Army Emergency Relief loan so I could pay for my flight. After landing state side I had no money so I got a loan from my bank and started the drive to my son. By the time I got there, there had been an emergency custody order (temporary) signed by a judge awarding full custody of my son to his grandmother and suspending all of my rights while I was overseas. I sought legal counsel, hired an attorney, and filed legal response to what had been put in place in my absence with the little time I had left.
Though I was unable to attend the funeral because of travel time and distance, I had family that did. They sat with my son and made sure that he was not alone in such terrible circumstances. They were a lot closer to the location than I was and were able to get there quickly, as I was not.
My sons’ grandmother left the state directly after the funeral and hid my son until I had to return overseas. I did not even get to see his face. When I went to local Government/Law Enforcement I was told to stay away or I would be in jail and that it was too late. This was 2-3 days after the accident but the order had been signed within 24hrs under misrepresentations and some false sworn statements. I had copious documentation to disprove the claims in hand within minutes.
My time was up and after being awake more than four days I had to get on a plane and report back to my unit overseas. I requested a compassionate reassignment after seeking spiritual guidance from my Chaplin and with his recommendation. This would have me moved back to the US to work at a duty station close to my son. Along with the accident my mother and grandfather both had started having some severe health problems and I needed to be closer to home without a doubt. One of my superiors actually showed up at the Chaplin’s office that day and demanded to know why I was speaking to the Chaplin and not to them about any issues I “might be having” were their words.
After about a week I started making inquiries to the status of my request. Two months of regular inquiries later, my battalions’ personnel action office (S-1) called my desk one day and asked me if I was still pursuing the compassionate reassignment request. The office representative stated the office had not received any communications from my unit in over a month. When I brought it to the attention of my leaders I was immediately attacked verbally and told it was all lies and that my problems didn’t warrant a compassionate reassignment.
I made several inquiries over the rest of my tour and was unsuccessful of any conformation that my request even left the building. My leaders began acting insulted at my inquiries and started to punish me at every instance by finding a way to consume as much of my time as possible each time I brought it up. I started working night shifts and would get called in almost daily for months for any random reason to the point that I became very sleep deprived and started having some health problems of my own. My unit had serious issues from top to bottom and I mean it was terrible. Most of the unit was under investigation for serious allegations or criminal offenses. Most of the leaders were close enough to retirement or getting out the military that they didn’t really care what was going on. Just so you understand how serious, there WAS a RAPE, there WERE SEXUAL ASSAULTS (more than one), there WAS AN ATTEMPTED SUICIDE, along with several suicidal ideations. All handled horribly and with blatant disregard to the well-being of the victims or anyone else.
At this point I had no desire to continue service and I was doing everything I could do to keep my mind off of this horrible situation. I was told one day that if I didn’t extend so that I would have six months left on my contract, by the end of my tour, that I wouldn’t be able to go home. I tried to do that and was told I would have to extend for a year at minimum. But, I only needed two months to have six at the end of my tour. The outcome was I was involuntarily extended to the end of my service contract at my current station overseas which kept me there for four more months.
Absolutely disgusted at what was being done to me, I kept my head down and my mouth shut and finished my time in misery. I didn’t leave my barracks room unless I had to. It was more like jail than an elite unit. I was discharged honorably but with a bar to reenlistment code because I had a medical profile for a torn ACL. I served three tours overseas, two of them in combat and this terrible unit made sure I received no kind of award upon my exit from the military for their troubles. I was given a memorandum that stated I couldn’t receive any award because I had a medical profile.
I had lots of gear in storage that I didn’t bring because I wouldn’t be using it. The cost of the gear was deducted from my pay because I couldn’t turn it in at that time and place. I was even kicked out of the barracks and had to stay in a hotel the day before my flight because, “I couldn’t clear the barracks if I was still living in them”. This was all at my expense. When I went to get my tickets I was told the army would only fly me to my home of record or where I joined both of which were over 1100 miles from where my family was stationed. This was where we were ordered to move, by the Army. I was told, and I quote “the Army doesn’t care what you’ve been through or what they’ve done to you”, “to them you are a quitter for not reenlisting”. “And the army isn’t going to spend any extra money moving you or your family anywhere.” I couldn’t believe what I had just heard but at the time I remember really appreciating the honesty in this person.
I ended up stuck at the first stop in the US. I even had to pay a fee for my bags ($400.00). I sat at that airport most of the day and night while my family drove several hundred miles to pick me up. I had just been dumped on the street. My last few paychecks had been taken before my travels even started.
When I got to my family, we had already been declared ineligible to renew the lease and pushed out of our apartment. I was basically jobless, homeless, injured and financially destroyed. I got all of the gear I had in storage and turned it in at the closest military installation. It was accepted and I was given documentation proving a time, date, place and what I turned in.
I lived in a motel that a local motorcycle club and a VFW paid for, for a while (God Bless Those Gentlemen). It took weeks for me to scramble up enough money just to travel to my mother’s home where I knew I would be accepted with open arms. I tried to find work to get some cash together. I had to take out a loan on a trailer with no money down just to move my things across the country. It was very small so I was forced to give away or throw away over half of the things I owned and still left furniture in storage for the owners of the storage facility.
I am truly in shock and in disbelief by this time at the way I had been treated. I live with my mother now and I have lost everything material of value that I ever worked for during this transition. My family is in shambles and has been torn apart and scarred from this horrible experience. I’m still fighting small town government for my only son who’s mother was killed in my absence. I have lived through worse but am far from putting all the pieces back together.
I’ve called office numbers, sent emails, sent supporting documents of expenses, orders and not received one cent from the Army in over five months. I’ve even had responses from people claiming to be the deputy director of Travel Pay/Finance. But, still I have received nothing, not one cent. It cost thousands of dollars in expenses and things that cannot be replaced just to move to what I’m calling home these days. I cashed out my retirement savings (TSP) and not only was it not even close to enough money but about half of it was taken in withdrawal fees.
This was my “real life” experience. It was abusive, terribly corrupt and more was taken than I had to give. Now no one in the Army acts like they even know me and could care less if I was robbed and then left on the street. I worked more than I ever have in my entire life in the Army. This is what they did to me for my service.
This is how the Army treats soldiers now. Whenever you see “cut backs” or “reductions”, in the news this is how it is being done, one soldier at a time. Anything that costs no matter how desperate the need, you can forget it. Five years ago it was nothing like this. It is disgraceful and it is disgusting.
Today’s American Veteran’
Charlie’s Story: http://bgky.craigslist.org/rnr/4483025074.html