This morning I decided to call the VA and find out about applying for my GI Bill benefits. After 2 hours of trying to get through, I was able to talk to a human, but she did not have good news. She pulled up my SSN and told me no record exists. I was then asked how I was discharged. I told her that I received a General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions. I was then asked what it stated on my DD Form 214 as to the reason, which was Misconduct.
At that point the nice lady informed me that I no longer have benefits and would have to fill out a DD Form 293, which is an Application For The Review Of Discharge Or Dismissal From The Armed Forces Of The United States. For those that have the deer in the headlight look on their face, that is the form needed to have my discharge upgraded. HOWEVER, it is not a guarantee. It’s just an application for my case to be reviewed. For those interested, you can do a Google search for the form and see just how detailed it is.
Basically, I am back where I was 2 1/2 years ago. I have to submit this form along with all my military records, my reason for why it should be upgraded, and ALL the supporting documentation. I than have a choice of traveling to Washington DC for the review board, having a lawyer or someone represent me, wait for the traveling board (not sure what bases they hit), or just having my records reviewed.
The lady I spoke with just talked to an individual that went through this process the other day and he told her it took a year to complete.
So, that being said, just when I was getting to a point where I could get through the day without getting pissed off or at least bury the past a little, I have to relive it all. I am going to try and get a hold of the Area Defense Counsel here at Keesler and see if they can assist me in getting all of this together since I am a dependent and can use base services. Not sure if they will though as I don’t believe I have ever heard of them dealing with civilians. But can’t go wrong by making the phone call and asking.
I will have to go through the 2 ft high stack of transcripts from my Separation Hearing too I imagine. One of the main things I need to know is if I can use all of the letters of recommendation people sent me to support me at that time, or if I will have to get new ones. Than I have to sit and type out my reasoning for the discharge to be upgraded and I am pretty sure I can’t just say, “Because my leadership at the time were idiots and made a huge mistake.” Yeah, fairly certain I will have to put it more eloquently than that.
The extremely difficult part for me is that I feel they (my leadership at the time) made a huge mistake and I, to this day, could have still been a huge asset to the Air Force. I’m not gonna lie, I miss the hell out of putting a uniform on every day and being part of the best military in the world. Hell, I feel sorry for Angie sometimes because she will tell me how her day went and I will start talking like I am still a MSgt. Eventually I look at her and apologize as I am no longer in the military and what do I know…
This is what I fight with daily. I have such a passion for what I did and I miss it. What I did is inexcusable; I get that and take full responsibility. However, that doesn’t mean I was a piece of shit that needed to be discarded because they had no use for me. I was a helluva SNCO that many looked up to, and I would like to believe still do to this day. Whenever something needed to be done in the squadron, especially my last unit, who did people come to? MSgt Everson… Even the officers came to me… But then again, a good officer listens to their SNCOs… That’s what makes a good officer great, and any great officer will tell you that. To this day, I know a few I would follow into battle in a millisecond.
That last paragraph was an internal pep talk for me and I thank you for indulging me… 😉 So I basically have two options at this point. I can say fuck it and move on. OR, I can be the SNCO I was and put my heart and soul into this and try to clear my name. I’m a highly decorated combat veteran with 16 years of faithful service. I damn sure ain’t gonna let 2 months of that service be what I am remembered by!!!!
A Colonel, at a base commander’s call back in 2000 at Charleston AFB, talked about the 3 Ps: Pride, Passion, and Professionalism… That Colonel, Vern “Rusty” Findley II is now a Lieutenant General. I guarantee you ladies and gentleman that I have more Pride, Passion, and Professionalism than many of the SNCOs have to this day and won’t go down without a fight.
I will leave you with three final thoughts. 1) Think long and hard about the decisions you make today as they can affect you for the rest of your life. 2) Listen to the people that are closest to you because they just may know what they are talking about. 3) Never be afraid or to pig headed to get help.
If I would have done those three very simple and basic things, I would not be sitting here typing this today.