First and foremost I want to express my sorrow for the paid your family has gone through. I have shared Chad’s story with my entire family, it hits close to home for us.
My husband was a Marine for 18.5 years, last years stationed at MCAGCC 29 Palms, CA. He was deployed to the war over 6 times. Between Iraq & Afghanistan. After the last deployment he came back different. Violent, Depressed, scared, turning to alcohol, and eventually drugs. Within the first 4 months of being back I called his command – begging for help. I wrote emails, went face to face, anything I could think of. They literally laughed me out of the office. This was in 2005.
About a year after many attempts to get my husband help, he turned his violence at me. Battered and scared, I called the police. He was arrested and spent 3 days in jail. When I called the police ( I knew the deputies) I told them the situation, that he was ill, and needed help desperately. They have a mental health division attached to the police dept, they told me he would be evaluated.
He was. But… His unit still didn’t see it as everyone else did. They punished him. Finally in 2008, after getting my congresswoman, my parents, his parents, and a civilian doctor I was seeing involved – my husband (Mike) was diagnosed with PTSD.
I wish the story ended there, but I can tell you just because someone is diagnosed does not mean they will get the help. My husband was harassed on a daily basis from his superiors. Calling him “a Shitbag”, “Substandard”, and much more. Mike was an exceptional Marine – many awards, and his job field was one that was one of the most valuable in the Corps.
In 18 years he never had one bad fit rep, and had Colonels that wrote recommendations to him. So at this time his unit, who once turned to him for the toughest assignments – gave him basically trash duty, made him sit at a desk at stare at paper. After his diagnosis, we, his family got him in treatment, he then finally got a Navy Doctor – who of course did nothing but medicate him.
With his unit against him, his depression is full force, he attempted his first suicide. We found him in time. Still the military did NOTHING. In the year from 2008 to 2009 my family contacted everyone.. Senators, the commandant, the base Inspector General, the Marine Corps Inspector General, Congressman, newspapers, TV shows – EVERYONE. The only person to even look into this was the Congressman from San Bernardino County. But he was stopped short by the base Commander.
In 2009, July to be exact the base commander sent down a notice to court martial my husband. To make a long story short – they kicked him out on a dishonorable discharge stating his was unfit to be in the military with behavioral issues, reduced his rank from Master Sgt to LCPL and that was it. Now my husband cannot even get VA benefits to help get treatment.
Since they kicked him out within a month of starting the entire discharge process, we have no retirement benefits either. He was 1. 5 years away from retiring. Because of the nature of his discharge, and his sickness – he cant get or hold a job.
Since then I have worked with alot of Veterans who have helped Mike get some medical treatment from the VA. We are also petitioning the Marine Corps and the Board of Naval Records to change his discharge. It has been almost a year, and he have gotten no answers from them.
This is an all to common occurrence with our service members. I am saddened that young men such as Chad, did not get a chance to fight. But I am happy to know there are families such as yourself that are keeping the fight for them.
My entire family sends thoughts of encouragement and support to yours…. Hopefully someday they will wake up and see that PTSD is deadly, and the only ones not solving the problem is them.
Kristine Street, Proud Wife of MSgt Michael Street
His Parents: Linda & Norton Street, My Parents: Ty & Jim Hargate, and my husband, Michael Street
February 6, 2010