Operator Six here. I had a conversation this morning with “Joe”, a truck driver and Veteran. The story he told me is heart-breaking, disturbing, and unfortunately more common than it should be.
Seven years ago, Joe returned from a tour overseas with the US Army. He unknowingly came home to a failing relationship. His (still, at the time) wife was combative and violent. She threw things. She broke things. He couldn’t seem to do anything right. If he watched TV with her, she got angry. If he didn’t watch TV with her, she got angry. The list goes on and on.
While he was deployed to Afghanistan, his wife gave their 7-yr old daughter literal rocks for Christmas because “Santa was mad at her”. When he tried to teach his daughter to play chess, his wife would sneer “why are you bothering? It’s not like she’s going to be the next (chess champ) Bobby Fischer”.
Joe shortly thereafter caught his wife cheating. The boyfriend, as it turns out, had a conviction for sexual molestation of a 9-yr old little girl. Then, his wife vanished with his daughter, only to resurface sometime later in Kitsap county, Washington. She had been lying to Joe, their families, and their friends, playing them off of one another to get her way.
When Joe divorced his now ex-wife and the custody battle ensued, he was told by the judge, point blank, “you are not good enough to be a father. You have been deployed overseas with the military and you don’t know what you’re doing. Custody denied” (paraphrased). This was seven years ago.
Now Joe, a long haul trucker, sees his daughter only a few precious times a year. His ex has done everything she can to brainwash Joe’s daughter against him. The custody battle and child support bankrupted him. Like so many of us military and prior military, Joe says despair almost got the best of him. He almost ended up as a number – the number 22. But – he didn’t. He chose to fight through it. He chose to rise above it.
This is the short version of what Joe told me today. The very short version.
There are far, far too many of these stories.