I HAD A LIFE
I had a wife and children, I had a family. I had a career with hopes and dreams for the future. I believed in my country. I believed in freedom and that it was worth fighting for. I believed in justice, fair-play and equality. I believed in reward for having a good mans heart. I thought I could make a difference. I thought it all mattered, I had hope.
I WAS DEPLOYED TO IRAQ
I remember kissing my children as they cried, kissing my wife and promising to return. She promised “I will love you for ever”. My employer promised to hold my job as I shook his hand. My neighbors put up flags and wished me well. I served my country; I put up with the heat, shook in terror and feared the night. I endured the separation and dreamed to call home when I could. I lost friends. I lost my health. I looked forward to my home coming and resuming my life, it never came.
After extended deployments and broken promises, I am finally allowed to come home. With no one at the ramp, no wife, no children, a restraining order was all I received telling me I can not go home; it was no longer my home. I returned to a job that had been sent overseas. My house was nearing foreclosure and my wife wanted a divorce. At my divorce I was vilified in court for serving my country. I was accused of being unfit to be with my children. I was powerless and helpless as the court stripped my children away from me. The same court and justice system I went to Iraq to defend. I was ordered to pay child support based on a job I no longer had and could not replace. From now on to my kids I am voice on the phone and a paycheck.
My passport has been revoked; my tax returns will forever be taken from me. I struggle to pay the court ordered support, if I can’t pay, I become a criminal. I then can’t drive because my driver’s license has been revoked due to arrears in child support. If I try to drive and get pulled over I will go to jail. I then can not pay at all and my arrears increase. I struggle to make ends meet and keep up my support checks. I have no help from my government that called on me and used my service but because I was National Guard, I don’t meet the same requirements as active duty. I file paper work with the courts for visitation with my children and have to wait months to go to court, when I show up for court I could go to jail to pay child support based on a job that was “outsourced” overseas.
When I get to see my children its supervised visitation only, because I have been injured in the line of duty and have to take meds for my condition. I have been portrayed as a villain in the eyes of the court. I can now be charged as a felon for child support evasion which again is based on a job I no longer have and that is not coming back. I can’t make enough money, I can’t save any money, I can only struggle to support attorneys and the courts. I filed all the correct paper work, I wore my uniform, I brought the pink slip from my lost job, and the court looked at me like a second class citizen. There was no honor or appreciation for my service and my sacrifice only contempt for my absence; an absence requested by my country for me to serve. Now I owe more then I can ever repay, I can not bankrupt on the debt, I have no voice in court. I have no recourse; I’ve been robbed of my hope!
I was sent thousands of miles away from my family and my life to enforce freedom and democracy and returned to find it doesn’t even exist here for me. Wonder how so many brave and valiant soldiers who served their country with honor can become drunks and bums? Why are they ending their lives after returning home in record numbers? Why are these brave men and women shadows of the people they once were? They have been robbed of their power and voice, and now are just broken and forgotten. They have lost their hope. For far too many, they can only hope to exist in poverty, what a wonderful thank you for their service and a job well done. The most amazing part of this crazy mess is that all these soldiers would honorably serve all over again. Why has our government abandoned us? Where is the honor and service due us?
I call it slavery and servitude!!!
Terrence Popp, Green Beret, Iraq 2003-04