SECOND CLASS CITIZEN
“Equality. Justice. Dignity”
Official Mission Statement: As many as one third of military suicides are attributable to contact with the family courts. Second Class Citizen assists and supports military and veteran noncustodial parents experiencing trauma and personal crisis while engaged with the family court system to prevent an already stressful event from turning into an unnecessary tragedy.
The Connection: Non-custodial Parents and Suicide Rates
Second Class Citizen started as a rights group for non-custodial parents. We experienced the bias of the family court system firsthand. Then as Veterans ourselves, we began recognizing patterns. Servicemembers (SM) and Veterans are disproportionately stripped of their parental rights in family court. Divorce and custody attorneys routinely cite “PTSD” and military service as “threat to child”, without any legal obligation to substantiate their claims. In any other court, such unsubstantiated fictions would be ordered stricken from the record. In family court, this is the norm.
The end result of these accusations and the SM or Veteran’s inability to effectively combat them in court is an increasingly high rate of suicide. Second Class Citizen combed through three years of active duty military suicide records from DOD and discovered that one third of active duty military suicides are due to family/custody matters. SM and Veterans are literally killing themselves in despair.
This discovery led us to pivot on our mission. It became clear that this was not just a battle for the rights of non-custodial parents. This is a battle to save lives. Add to this that Second Class Citizen recently became aware of another suicide demographic – the children of these custody battles. Now it is not just SM and Veterans taking their lives – it is their children as well. This is far beyond unacceptable. This is utterly unconscionable.
Second Class Citizen’s goal is not just to “prevent” these suicides – they are a symptom of a much larger problem. The goal is to change the family courts and how SM & Veterans, and their children are treated in family court and remove the cause of so many of these needless, tragic deaths. Without much-needed change, these suicides will continue. The Veteran community of the United States is at its largest point since WWII. SM and Veterans need our help now. The current family court system represents a clear and present danger to them, and to their families. Please, help us to help them.
Second Class Citizen’s current effort is to create working legislation to expand Veterans Treatment Courts to include family court matters such as custody and child support. Many servicemembers and Veterans are slandered in order to take their children from them and gain a higher percentage of that soldier’s benefits. Sometimes they are ambushed by their spouse in order to secure false domestic violence charges in order to achieve those goals.
Some may argue this concept constitutes “special treatment” – what it in fact constitutes is special abuse. No man or woman who served their nation should have to stand in a courtroom and be called “assassin”, “murderer”, or ‘babykiller” because they chose the profession of arms.
Second Class Citizen believes this is not only unjust, but immoral and wrong as well. Help us to help them by changing the law and improving the court venues that handle these cases.