the DD214

My discharge came as a very sudden wake up at around four in the morning February 20,1970. They marched me and a couple of other guys around to certain buildings surrounding the detention barracks-one where a huge pile of clothes lay in one large room and we were ordered to pick out something to wear-we were turning in our uniforms since we were deemed unfit to wear them any longer. We were also marched around to certain buildings to sign ourselves into civilian life-oe place I recieved my final pay…somewhere around thirteen dollars and some loose change-I think it was supposed to be travel money to get you to the closest address on your files. We were marched to the main gate at the Norfolk Naval Station and each of us was handed a packet with all of our records in them-including the DD214 which is the main discharge form with every detail in code of your military history , a very coveted piece of paper as one learns.

As I said before-I ended up in Florida that June-on fathers day. I spent my first day in a jewish cemetery literally homeless , yet by some strange coincedidence when I called a friend back in DC to find out what I can do-looking for help-I learned my friend had a brother that lived in a town about ten miles from where I was. The friend I called was an older man who was the youth leader at a church I attended in DC…the same youth group I was with when we marched at the Nations Capital for civil rights. And by that night I was resting in an old hotel building ( being renovated into a residence) on the main street-the only main street…in a small town inFlorida called Micanopy. (pron., mick-can-no-pee).

In most all things gentle in my life I attribute it to my time spent in Micanopy and the influences I was accepted into. It is the second oldest town in Florida-very small and during the high life of the hippie days it had been taken over by artists from diverse backgrounds and goals…musicians , wood workers , painters and sculptors ,leather crafters , photgraphers and teachers. I continue relationships made in that town to this day and I continue with feelings learned from that time also.

But I had this problem. It was the strong arm thing and I could be easily manipulated to do things beyond my own desires-so some things went askew and my life in Micanopy was brief. I did have a shot gun wedding there…a story that deserves its own space but never the less I was married to a sixteen year old local girl-pregnant-by a preacher and feeling the girls father breathing down my neck.

And then began the troubles of finding a job.

The DD214 has a code on it. In section 11 where it talks about the discharge in space C it says ‘reason and authority’ and there in that space is typed a number…mine-3420220 -384-, it is the 384 that I learned would be tagging along with me every where I went to look for a job. It was the code to say I was discharged for drug use…if it was’nt hard enough to explain to a potential employer why you only served seven months in the Navy during war time yet one had to hand over a sheet of paper that told that employer you had a drug history. No one was interested in hiring me-plus , no diploma. So by summer 1971 I had been married to the mother of my new born son and faced a future of closed doors in the job market. I was barely 19 years old.

I’ve always had my DD214…as required-I’m sure by law. It has as I said followed me all through out my life-each official copy of it embossed with a seal and everytime you request replacements it is always an ordeal that ends with a letter saying ‘this is an important document…do not loose’. It is the literal truth that this sheet of paper gets shown to more people in your life than you ever realize and thus the stigma of the code number still exists…I am a 384 a person with drug history.

Now how can a person explain away what the federal government-the United States military deems official? How could a man tell another man that you did’nt have a chance to defend yourself and the real reason you only served seven months and not the full four years was because you were railroaded out of the service with out a chance…by your own brother,in the wonderful and free country we live in. Especially in the 1970’s when everything was on the border of old fashioned conservatives that were having a hard time accepting the changes coming through the Viet Nam war and the hippie movement and the civil rights of black Americans-so my life was sunk with that piece of paper because once upon a time you were required to provide it with a job application. The only jobs I could get were those for the unskilled-laborer.

5 Responses to “the DD214”

  1. micah Says:

    how can one change the re code?

  2. jayherron Says:

    Micah,all that I can say is if you know with out a doubt that you are right-and it is wrong,that they are wrong-if you know you have the truth and nothing can shake that truth because it is truth-and truth is unshakeable…it is always!
    If you have that then you have to begin to fight for your right to have the truth made known-such as that number-if it is wrong because they are wrong then you need to start rattleing doors and finding the right person to help you.
    An attorney that is familier with military law-should be able to advise you better than I except my advice is this…if you are right and they are wrong and you know it 100 percent-the truth wins everytime…so start making noise-thats the only way you get heard.
    Im sorry I cant help you more.

  3. Colonel's Wife & Generals daughter Says:

    I am sure your dd214 was one of the obstacles. Judging by your account, you and I are about the same age. I see that after you were separated from the Navy, you never got your GED, nor did you go to any trade school, college, or other form of training. While I never joined the military I was raised in it, worked in it for Navy, Marines, and Army for over 14 years, and married to it. I am a Communications and Security Consultant and some of the contracts are thru the DOD. If I am on managing a project where there is no security clearance or SEC bonding this would not be the reason I would not hire you. The sole reason I and other empoyers would not hire is that you were not proactive in overcoming it by getting your GED and follow up with formal training or attending college. Jr COllege have courses that are affordable and you could still have tuition assistance.
    In summary for me or any hiring official your mishap with the Navy would not wash with any hiring official or employer if you have done nothing to show you have long overcome it.
    You are from the baby boomer generation as I am. I have several colleagues who are baby boomers who dodged the draft and even though amnesty was granted it was still difficult in the beginning for all of them but they had the drive to turn it around.
    If you did not do this crime why did you not seek out a settlement years ago and do it with an attorney who specializes in it? Lack of funds doesn’t cut it with me. A lot of attorneys who know they can win will do it on a pmt plan and may even be compensated by the DOD. You also had the right to use JAG’s defense dept even if the JAG prosecuters were willing to defend the Navy’s decision.
    If your own brother did this to you, what is the reason? Does your family support him or you?
    You have the internet at your finger tips. Here is a site that deals with your There are attorney names and I am sure you can find one if not in your town at least nearby. You must be in your 50’s now so you will be asked these questions. Like JAYHERRON said. If you have the truth on your side you will be compensated at least with a change to your re code. Most of these Attorneys are experts when the grievance is the re code and dishonorable discharges.
    I hope you have the law and justice on your side. If you do, you have nothing to worry about. This is another site:
    They handle cases just like yours.

  4. jayherron Says:

    ….hey-thanks,as soon as I get my replacement computer I will respond to your questions! really-if you read all of thiese you will understand-that asks alot! thanks

  5. anonymous Says:

    You can get a form that is stripped of that code on it. Check the VA website of contact the National Veterans Legal Services Program.

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