Thursday, July 7, 2011

6 July 2011

AN IMPORTANT REMINDER!! Do NOT mail any packages directly to Nate without checking with us. Someone (we don't know who) mailed a package last month. It was returned because he is only allowed to receive one package per quarter. If he receives a package from someone else, we cannot place the order with the things he has specifically requested. You are welcome to put money on his books or make a donation through the PayPal link if you would like to help with the cost of his packages, his phone bill, or the books for his college courses. Please just indicate what you would like the money to be used for.

A lot has happened since the last post. Nate called the day before Mothers Day and we talked for a long time. He said he would call back the next day to tell me happy Mothers Day, but I didn't hear from him. Several days went by before we finally got a letter telling us that they were on lockdown. They ended up being on lockdown for 5 weeks while the guards searched cells for contraband. Then they were off lockdown for about week -- Nathan called several friends and family members during the week and we were all glad to hear from him. Then no word again - and finally notice that he (and all the White inmates) were back on lockdown because of an incident that had occurred where at least one inmate had been attacked/stabbed. We still don't know all the details.

Because of the lockdown, when I called to make the reservation for our visit (the weekend of July 15), I was initially told that we couldn't have the visit.  I was calling 3 weeks in advance (even though we are only required to reserve visits 1 week in advance); I had purchased the plane tickets in May; we were trying to coordinate a family visit with my oldest daughter and oldest son; and we were trying to do all of this during Mike's only summer vacation time. However, the visit coordinator said we could not have the visit because we didn't schedule it while the inmates were off of lockdown. I've never seen anything that said we have to schedule visits while the inmates were off lockdown, and there's no way of telling when they will be off lockdown. I could have scheduled the visit earlier if I had known this was a policy. It was late Friday afternoon when we got this discouraging news. I'll be honest - I cried - and then I asked our friends to pray that we could somehow still arrange a visit this summer.  It took several phone calls to Oklahoma and Sacramento, but we were finally approved for the visit. PTL! We are very excited to be able to visit next week, and we hope the lockdown ends soon.

Nate found out that he received an "A" and a "B" on his first two college courses. Go Nate! He did receive permission to take 2 courses this summer. They are both business courses and from what he has been able to tell us, it sounds like he is enjoying them.

After 3 years of questioning why we could not obtain a copy of Nate's DD214 (his official discharge paperwork) we finally learned that one had never been issued. Through a friend I was introduced to a Brigadier General from Quantico. After hearing Nate's story he offered to help in any way he could, so I asked him what I should do to obtain the DD214. (This is important, as it will be the first step in eventually requesting an upgrade to his discharge status). Within the week someone in the General's office contacted me and the form was completed. Another small victory! The General also suggested that due to the circumstances surrounding Nate's discharge we should file a request for an investigation by the Inspector General's office, which we have done.

In the last month there have been 2 showings of HBO's Wartorn: 1861 - 2010 locally. The first was held at San Jose City Hall, sponsored by our District 8 City Councilmember Rose Herrera. There were approximately 170 people in attendance. We had an excellent panel of experts with some good question/answer time available after the showing of the movie. We sincerely appreciate Matt O'Neill (HBO producer) for his attendance and participation in the panel. Mayor Chuck Reed was in attendance for some opening remarks, but in the midst of tough budget meetings he was unable to stay for the movie. However, we were able to leave a copy of it with him and look forward to his reactions. We received very positive responses from the movie and guests were encouraged to make donations to FAVA/South Bay Blue Star Moms if they were able to do so.

SBBSM president Anna Vanegas, Mayor Reed, me, and SBBSM past president Linda Bayer
Rose Herrera (front right), HBO's Matt O'Neill (back right) and members of the South Bay Blue Star Moms

The next showing of Wartorn was at San Francisco's Marine's Memorial Club. This showing was sponsored by Swords to Plowshares, another local non-profit veterans advocacy group. I was invited to be on their discussion panel and again received a very positive response. I was also invited to share Nate's story at a training seminar held by the Palo Alto Veterans Administration for its employees who have contact with veterans in the justice system. All in all it has been a busy month and we continue to hope that Nate's story will impact others in a positive manner.

Our family continues to appreciate your prayer support. Our youngest son turned 16 on the night of the San Jose Wartorn showing, but chose not to attend with us because the movie is still very difficult for him emotionally; he chose to spend his birthday alone rather than spending it upset. With his youth pastor moving out-of-state this week, this school year will be very different for him. We are grateful that he already has a good relationship with the pastor who will be stepping in to direct the youth group. I've shared with a couple of people that it feels like we just keep getting handed one piece of a jigsaw puzzle at a time. It's exciting when we watch a piece snap in place, but sometimes we just don't know what to do with the piece we've been handed. I just wish I could see a glimpse of the picture on the box!

"That's What Grace Is For" 
(c)Yours for a Song Music

"Is there something in your way, a battle you can't win?
Do you struggle day to day with thoughts of giving in?
There's no reason for despair, He has walked this way before,
With compassion flowing free, He's there for you and me,
That's what grace is for.

When the answer just won't come, and your soul cannot be still,
When it's all be said and done, Rest in the Father's will....

When all hope fades away and pray'rs are only words,
Just reach out in faith and know He's already heard;
He'll mend your wounded heart, peace He will restore
His arms are open wide, walk thru mercy's door.
That's what grace is for."

We have been reminded time and time again that we are not alone in this fight. Thank you again for your love and support!



Louis Arcarese said...


Sorry I was not able to come to the screening but am looking for the film on line but so far no luck. Would like to have been at the panel discussion, also. I am writing a letter to Nate right now but have not mailed it yet.


Louis Arcarese, PsyD

Charilyn & Mike said...

The HBO film Wartorn: 1861-2010 is now available for purchase through HBO (, new & used on, or for rental through Netflix if anyone still wants to see it.

a98c8588-c078-11e0-bbf1-000bcdca4d7a said...

hey... i wanted to know if i could get nathans mailing address... i always pray for him and think about him often... id really like to write and say hi... if u could send it to please and thank you so much.. nathan and ur family are constantly in my prayers