Original post found here and reposted below.
THIS VETERAN’S DAY, I FEEL LIKE AN ONLY CHILD
First and foremost I want to say thank you to all those who have served and continue to serve our country. My dad was in the Air Force, so most of my childhood was spent living on a military base. My ex, who is my kiddos dad, is a Navy Seabee, and because of our marriage I had the privilege of traveling and meeting many fabulous mil-spouses. I also have two brothers who are Army Veterans. My brother Ryan was Army Infantry and spent several tours defending our country and freedom. So a big thank you to my family and all those I call my family & friends.
However, I won’t say Happy Veteran’s Day, because I know for many being a veteran also carries many wounds, scars, and injustices. Unfortunately, our family has experienced this first hand.
The VA system has shown time and time again on how they have failed our service members when they become a civilian. Type in “veteran injustice” into Google and a host of articles pop up. I’m sure there are some who get the treatment they deserve, but I very rarely hear of those stories.
This is my brother Ryan.
Ryan has been screwed over big time by the VA program and Veteran’s Court.
He is currently serving a 4 year sentence for a charge that, if he had gone through the regular FL justice system, would have only been 9 months. His new sentence is now 2 years in PRISON and 2 years probation. We strongly believe he got this because he is being made an example of, by speaking up & voicing his thoughts on the program and the unfairness in not being able to attend our brother’s funeral. He was in the correctional facility for violation of probation (which was not attending VA counseling & not taking meds) when my brother Adrian passed, and our family (and many friends we learned…THANK YOU) tried to get him a furlough for the funeral. We were denied. Two facts: 1- the lady basically yelled at my mom saying that the judge denied the petition and then hung up on her; and 2- another guy was given furlough the same week we asked for one. This guy had a violent charge of waving a gun in a nightclub, and he was let out to sign paperwork and pay a bill!! For the record, my brother’s original charge is illegal possession of controlled substance under 1/2 gram.
I have currently been receiving letters from him and writing on his behalf while he is in; and in his own words, “I was sentenced to almost 6 times the normal punishment for my crime, 4 times the state recommendation, and 2 times the state maximum, all because I am a Veteran. I was sentenced by a judge who is an Army Veteran himself and a wounded warrior, as well as a Brigadier General. I was a participant in a new program called Veterans Court, which was started by this Judge, and because of my inability to complete the program I was judged more harshly than a regular citizen would have been in a regular courtroom.” He writes that he was “promised help instead of punishment but received punishment instead of help.” He writes to me so I can put his thoughts on a blog, and in hopes that he can bring to light the major problems with the program, so that another Veteran does not have to fall subject to the injustices that he has had.
We thought he would have been out by now. Most of the guys who he was with in the correctional facility, and who had a similar charge, have actually gotten out already. Other men with harsher chargers and more serious crimes even have shorter sentences. In fact, there is a guy my brother met who is in for forcing his nephew to give him a blow job. I know, disgusting right? So how is he almost out and my brother is now transferred to a prison serving a longer sentence? Injustice.
So, while I thank our Veterans for their service, I do not forget that some service members need more than our thanks. They need us to advocate for them, because I’m sick and tired of hearing of our vets not getting the benefits they deserve. I’m tired of hearing of how they die waiting to get an appointment into a VA medical clinic. I’m tired of hearing of how they cannot get the help they need for PTSD (so true in Ryan’s case.) I’m tired of seeing them living on the streets and being treated like scum. I’m so sick and tired of the injustice…everywhere. We have to do better.
*For the record, and as a side note- my brother, nor I, disregard the fact that he committed a crime. There is no excuse for what he did. However, the sentence does not fit the crime. We thought this judge would understand that, having been in my brother’s shoes once. PTSD is a serious matter. Locking these guys up doesn’t always help.*