“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What Kind of Reward Is This?

(My thanks to Marty Horn at Any Soldier for forwarding the text to post here.)

Can you imagine this... a young soldier... (and a purple heart recipient) is called upon to serve his country.. twice... leaving behind a young wife and his children. While in Iraq, he hears of abuse allegations and he expresses his wishes and fears to social workers after his 9 year old daughter was hospitalized, only to be told he has no parental say so because he is not in this country, but told that "the wife is the custodial parent.... she is here" and he is expected to carry out his dangerous missions as he is wondering who is helping to protect his own children back home.
He returns from serving his country as soon as he can, and decides that he can't be the kind of father, a single parent,... that his children need if he were to remain in the military, so he gives up his 8 year career to go on unemployment and finally is able to find an $ 8.00 an hour job because the employers with higher paying jobs tell him that he is exactly what they look for and need, but it would be to costly to train him, especially when there are other applicants who are already trained in that field.

He tries to rent a home for them, but he is told he has too many people to live in their small house, or that he doesn't make enough money and that they have to look out for their own best interest.

He also tries to file for divorce and is told he can't do that either because you have to be a resident for 6 months and he had been gone for a year.... remind you again, doing what was asked of him, while serving his country. In the meantime, the wife files, and is then granted a divorce in Louisiana, yes, she filed first, he filed when he was finally allowed and he has never been served with any papers, notices or been notified of any hearings and yet, she is given her divorce and also custody of their children.

While all of this is going on, and over a year ago, the children are placed in the paternal grandmother's custody ... in Ohio and after the abuse allegations. The mother files for divorce and she receives free legal aid in both Ohio (which is where the soldier is from) and Louisiana (which is where the mother lived as a child). The soldier ends up having to pay thousands to be represented and is never even given a chance to give his side of the story to a judge. He and his children were never given the chance to speak to a judge in over a year of hearings.

On July 28th, his wife came to Ohio for a hearing, prepared to take her children home. The case was rescheduled for the next Monday. Again they never saw a judge, only a magistrate. It was an ugly scene at the courthouse in Ohio when the children learned they were going back with their mother, they were never going to be able to talk to the judge and explain why they are so frightened and what happened to them while in their mother's care...
even though they tried on several occasions, they would just be expected to go with their mother and her live in boyfriend and go through even more abuse.

The now 10 year old screamed to please not make her go, don't let her sister and brother go. She is hysterical and cries that her mother said she would hurt her real bad if she told and now she would beat her again. Again nobody would listen to this child screaming for help. Instead she and her family were told that they had to leave, they were making a scene.

We are told it was because Ohio didn't have the jurisdiction over this soldier's children, this is also why they couldn't be appointed a guardian ad lidem. (If the state of Ohio didn't have jurisdiction over the children, then how could they grant the grandmother custody in the first place and then take it away?) They say because the kids hadn't lived here for 6 months before they were placed in their grandmother's custody, and only had been visiting for 3 months. Their father came to be with them as soon as he had chaptered out of the military. They attended school here for over a year and were doing great, they were involved in Girl Scouts and sports programs.
They were happy and enjoying just being able to be kids.

This young man has paid every cent he has and then some to the attorneys here and in Louisiana, while trying to provide for his children since becoming a civilian. It has been very difficult and he is too proud to ask for your help, but we will. HE NEEDS YOU to now step up and help him defend and protect his own children. The funds collected will be used for helping him with the traveling expenses while he goes to Louisiana for court hearings and to see his kids, the attorney and legal fees, court costs, and the expenses of deposits and rents needed in getting them into their home.
They have been staying with family. He does have a hearing date scheduled for the end of October/2006 in Louisiana.

There has been an account set up for this family in the name of V.O.I.C.E.S.; at Farmer's National Bank; 2910 Youngstown-Warren Rd.; Warren, OH 44484.

Anything at all that you can do would be greatly appreciated, it doesn't have to be much, and if you can't, that is also understood... maybe just sending a letter to show your support to V.O.I.C.E.S., Fluharty Family Support Benefit Fund, P.O. BOX 245, Newton Falls, Ohio 44444-0245. Maybe you can forward this or give this request to others who you think would be able to and willing to help.

Let's show this veteran soldier that, as Americans, we will stand up with him as he fights for his own children and let him know we do appreciate the sacrifices they have all made. Lets help his children make their V.O.I.C.E.S. heard and help their father in his fight to give them what they need and deserve. These are the Voices Of Innocent Children Ending Silence!,...their own silence!

It is terribly wrong what has happened to this family... we also ask that you please write your Congressmen and Legislators (Contacting the Congress) and ask them to help change the laws that make it possible to have our military men and women treated this way. There are many who have been going through similar situations and injustices since returning from serving their country. We owe them more than that!

As one police officer who couldn't believe this was happening to them has said " What a way for us to say 'thank you' for serving our country!"

We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for doing whatever you can, if you want verification that this is actually a true problem and not a scam, please contact gto417@aol.com and she will send you where you can find legal documentation on this.

The Friends and Family of the Fluharty Family