The best story I have about Dad is when we were waiting to be called into court back in 2009. Dad had walked away from us for a moment and was in his full army dress uniform looking very professional and impressingly authoritative, while I was having a conversation with Mom about how I was raising my son to be the best boyfriend/the best husband ever. A mandatory requirement to fulfill such roles (I think) is that he should talk about his feelings but for some odd reason, my then 11 year-old little boy was resistant to this idea. As I said this, a combination of a grunt and a groan audibly came from behind me. I turned to see Dad who had overheard me and was now blushed red. "I'd rather be in the middle of a minefield diffusing bombs" he said.
REALLY???!!! How hard is it for men to talk about their feelings???
Dad was born in Freehold, New Jersey as the youngest of three sons to a stay-at-home mom and an old school Army EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) Enlisted. After a typical “military brat” childhood, Dad first enlisted in the Army Reserves then transitioned into the Army, following in the footsteps of his father by pursuing a career in the EOD unit.
Dad’s childhood left him with a tremendous sense of responsibility, a drive to succeed and a dedication to be the absolute best version of himself that he could possibly be – and guess what? All his hard work paid off: he ended up as an Honor Grad of his EOD class!
Despite all this seriousness of his career, Dad’s got a wicked sense of humor and is able to make me laugh until I cry – and it’s not just his goofy dance moves – his jokes are pretty good too (at least better then my husband’s). Dad’s calm and reserved nature has served him well, especially with all the challenges he’s had to face since falling in love and starting a family with Mom (see the previous article) but Mom and Dad complement each other quite well and their union is a strong and enviable one.
Dad is truly the quintessential soldier; beyond incapable of violating an order, I seriously think he wouldn’t even know how to violate an order even if he could – his dedication to the Army and to the country he serves is unwavering and complete which is why it was so sad to have to witness the impact of the 2008/2009 family court case on him. Holding on to the belief that if you do good hard work, stick to the rules, remain honest, focused and dedicated to excellence then you simply can’t go wrong, he was naively unprepared for the venue of a protracted family court case.
Towards the end of the case, there was one particular family court hearing that didn’t go well for Mom and Dad despite Dad’s excellent preparation. As we recessed, I saw something I hope to never see again:
As the bad news began to sink in, the faith, optimism and belief that Dad had in truth and justice – a foundation that he held onto so dearly – just seemed to drain away from him. The look on his face was more then the normal shock and disbelief that I’m accustomed to seeing; it was like watching a candle about to extinguish where a small, struggling flame suddenly flickers out giving way to a puff of smoke before disappearing all together. Between Mom and Dad that day, I actually felt worse for Dad because Mom at least had the understanding that those sworn to uphold the law and justice will sometimes violate them and in the most egregious ways; Dad walked into court that morning completely void of such a reality but by the end of the day, he was seeing what Mom and I had been seeing all along – and that’s a picture that DV survivors try to warn, prevent and spare others from seeing so it really was a sad day beyond the family court’s punitive decision.
Though given a two-year reprieve (if you could call being away from his family 90% of the time a reprieve) from the nightmare of injustice where Dad’s been able to rebuild his faith, optimism and belief for the democracy he’s devoted all of his adult life to this far, the “Ghost of Christmas Past” decided to pay him a visit:
This past week, Dad was informed that he’d be facing a field grade Article 15 (that could cost him his career plus potential time at Levanworth) for fraud. What kind of fraud? This kind:
Remember Mom’s Narcolepsy with Cataplexy diagnosis that was misdiagnosed all of Mom’s life as "seizures"? Well, before Mom and Dad relocated to Germany, they had to fill out a medical EFMP form that contained a series of checkboxes. One of the checkboxes asked if anyone’s ever been treated for seizures. Unsure of how to answer because Mom had yet to be provided with the diagnostic paperwork confirming her Narcolepsy with Cataplexy diagnosis, they consulted with an army nurse, explained the situation and followed her recommendation when she said not to check the box for seizures off.
Dad submitted the completed form (that did NOT say, “If there are any future corrections to this form, please inform us of any changes”) then went back to packing, boxing, shipping, etc. for their impending departure out of the country. A few days later, Mom received her diagnostic paperwork and immediately began her treatment for her Narcolepsy with Cataplexy.
So where’s the fraud? According to a non-medical colonel, Dad should have checked the seizures box on the medical form because Mom had been treated for seizures even though she was treated as a result of medical error! How that’s Dad’s “fault” and how that’s considered “fraud” is beyond me because considering the current backdrop, it sounds more like RETALIATION as well as a complete waste of time, money and energy.
Personally, I think the army’s legal resources would be better used addressing all the incidences of rape in the military (to include Mom’s own) as is getting so much attention right now http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/13/17299244-rape-on-duty-senate-panel-members-suggest-overhaul-of-military-justice-system but that’s just my simplistic civilian opinion.
If the army wants to pursue an Article 15 against one of their bomb technician specialists whose been a model soldier based upon an unchecked box on a medical form, I guess that’s their prerogative (unless our tax dollars are being used to contribute to such non-sense!) but I really do feel that Dad’s talents would be better utilized in keeping people safe like he’s been expertly trained to do and has been doing for years vs. sitting on the sidelines trying to defend himself against bureaucratic retaliatory “fraud” charges.