Deployed Troops Fight For Lost Custody Of Kids
The quiet suffering of far too many military families goes far beyond the worst; the specter of horrible injury to or the terror of losing forever their uniformed loved one. It sinks considerably deeper; a frightened child with nightmares of never seeing his or her father again, a lonely wife beset upon by “friends” who tell her to leave her “inconsiderate” husband now on his 2nd, 3rd or even 4th deployment and the sheer uncertainty of it all; the maddening fear and worry.
I once worked with a sailor who chose IA (Individual Augmentee) duty in Iraq for a year. He was scared out of his wits about going over there, but he steeled himself to the mission at hand and shared his reasoning for going with a few of us. His wife had been unfaithful to him while he was out to sea on a 6 month deployment, started hanging out with the wrong crowd and now did a variety of drugs with all sorts of men in the house while their three year old daughter slept in the adjoining room of the apartment. While out to sea on another deployment with us on board the USS Kitty Hawk in Japan, she filed for sole custody of the child after their divorce and won. After being granted emergency leave and flying back to the States to try to fight the ruling, he returned a broken man, chastened by an uncaring family court (ruling against him even after the chain of command on the ship had actually taken care of a sailor in a bad spot for once and secured a duty posting for him close to his daughter). So his last hope was to go to Iraq for a year, save up and get out of the Navy, hopefully to win back custody of his little “angel”.
Every night I pray for this guy (admittedly his case is about as bad as they get, most divorces don’t involve spouses who go on multiple day long drug binges) . He is one of numerous people I know across the military who face this kind of challenge, and I’m grateful the AP has reported on the problem.
They are people like Marine Cpl. Levi Bradley, helping to fight the insurgency in Fallujah, Iraq, at the same time he battles for custody of his son in a Kansas family court.
Like Sgt. Mike Grantham of the Iowa National Guard, whose two kids lived with him until he was mobilized to train troops after 9/11.
Like Army Reserve Capt. Brad Carlson, fighting for custody of his American-born children after his marriage crumbled while he was deployed and his European wife refused to return to the States.
And like Eva Crouch, who spent two years and some $25,000 pushing her case through the Kentucky courts.
“I’d have spent a million,” she says. “My child was my life … I go serve my country, and I come back and have to go through hell and high water.”
“Real talk”: I really don’t want to be negative here, but this is the type of story that the few Americans who actually bother to read or watch the news will cluck their tongues about and then move on. Some Democrat will bitch at a hearing about it to some general, probably one who failed miserably in Iraq as most of them do, and a few days later (mercifully, maybe another week) some father of a “little angel” will die in Iraq and be pictured on the Washington Post’s “Faces of the Fallen”.
The military solution that miserably substitutes for the political solution there will continue to waste away precious American lives, and more Iraqis will die at the hands of their fellow Iraqis and “dead-ender” foreigners. Pres. Bush will show up at a speech at a military base with a crowd of waving, cheering uniformed
sacrificial lambs soldiers who seem not to comprehend that he and his ilk don’t give a damn about them.
Back in Iraq, some Iraqi kid who was somebody’s “little angel” is going to see his parents butchered to death by one of the many paramilitary groups that “run” the country right now. Some pompous American general will have the gall to march up to Capitol Hill after another few suicide bombings that kill a few hundred people and set off more ethnic cleansing and claim “progress”, as they’ve been doing for 4 years now.
Man we did us a damn fine job of spreading that freedom and avenging 9/11 didn’t we? Is it even possible to be proud of America any more?