Archive for the ‘DD214’ Category

the DD214

October 8, 2006

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.