Thursday, November 8, 2012

8 November 2012

Once again it has been a long time since I have updated Nate's blog. In part, it's because it things have settled into a "normal" pattern and it does not seem like there is much to report. Since our visit last summer we have been able to talk on the phone often. Nate is taking two more classes this semester, and he was able to get the extra credit points for his classes last spring. That raised one of his grades to another "A"! The college did not offer any summer courses due to budget cuts, but that gave Nate a chance to work on personal projects like reading, teaching himself Spanish, and learning the map of Europe. The books he reads are about historical and political events and figures, so even when he's not taking classes he's pushing himself to learn more. He continues to amaze me in that regard.

Nate has also shown a lot of concern for other inmates. Recently he asked me to provide some research help for another young man who is taking college classes but had no way to get the information he needed for a required research paper. I got back a thank you note from him that also included this: "By the way, you raised a great son. Nate got me to start college, is a good friend, and probably has more potential than anyone here."

California has started removing the inmates from the Oklahoma facility and bringing them back to Arizona and California. About half of the prison has been emptied, but Nate was not in the group that was moved. At this point, it could still be up to a year before they move everyone out. That doesn't help us much because that's about when they would be starting to bring Nate back anyway, at about the 6-month mark prior to his parole eligibility. 

Although the VA has ruled that Nate is eligible for benefits as if he were Honorable Discharged, they have recently denied his initial disability claim. That's actually a common occurrence that will require a request for a review of his case. Many vets do not follow through with the review process ( which sometimes takes multiple attempts) and is definitely an exercise in endurance. It's not an easy for anyone, but it is almost impossible for someone with Post Traumatic Stress and other combat injuries. The VA has been accused of making the process difficult in an attempt to not have to pay claims.  The unbelievable part of this particular denial is that it is strictly because Nate didn't show up for the doctor's appointment that was scheduled to evaluate him.  Imagine that! I had actually called and asked to have the appointment cancelled, but evidently it was not done. The VA also has the full file with all of the previous evaluations, but their process requires evaluation by specific doctors and they will not accept the previous documentation. He has a year to appeal the ruling, but I do not think he will be able make it to any other doctor's appointments, either, unless someone has more pull with the State of California or with the warden than I do?!

Nate did have a visit from the MSgt at the USMC Wounded Warrior Regiment in Oklahoma. We'd been trying to arrange it for several months, and I wasn't sure how the visit would go, but Nate called me afterwards more excited than he had been in a long time. It seems they look more like brothers than he does with his own brothers, which brought on a few laughs from his friends, and they talked for four hours straight. Hopefully more visits will follow, as it really helps Nate not to feel forgotten or left behind by the USMC. 

Nate's brother was able to visit a couple of weeks ago, and I have a trip scheduled for the weekend before Christmas.  Please continue to pray for us. As many of you realize, today is the anniversary of his best friend's KIA date, and this weekend is the 5-year mark for Nate's original arrest. It's still very painful for all of us, and we covet your continued friendship and support. Thank you for not forgetting our veterans!



Elizabeth Schmitz said...

I watched the documentary Wartorn tonight. My heart broke watching all of the stories. I sincerely feel for your son. I also have PTSD, for a much different reason, but I felt like I could completely relate to the total lack of control and feelings of helplessness that occur daily. I would love to write him, of course with his permission. Please let me know.
Thank you

Unknown said...

I saw the documentary too. Nathan's story broke my heart. Nathan - I have a sister who ended up in jail for several years, when like you, she needed treatment. YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE ENDED UP IN PRISON. YOU SHOULD HAVE HAD HELP. As sad as your story is, I was so deeply touched and find hope and meaning in the fact that you are helping support others in prison. What a decent, dignified human being you are. If you need any resources, help, and support at all from the outside, I would be honored to help in any way. Please don't hesitate to ask. Hang in there, my heart is with you. Mai

Kelly Ferguson said...

I also watched Wartorn yesterday on HBO. I was not sure what it was when I first stumbled upon it, but when I read the info I turned over to it. I am a USMC veteran as well. I am currently working on a Masters in Mental Health Counseling specifically to work with veterans and active duty coming back from overseas. I think that our military has unfortunately failed to take notice how important our service members mental health is to their overall being. I also feel that there is very little awareness or understanding in our society for what our service members go through simply by deploying - even if they never see a day of combat - and I believe there is little understanding for our men and women suffering from PTSD.
I was moved by your story...moved to tears. I have read through your blog and I am not at all amazed by what Nate has done since being in prison. His service to his fellow man did not end when he took off his uniform or when he put on a prison uniform. Within him is the same integrity, honor, courage, and committment to himself and to others that made him a Marine. I do not need to know him to know that he is an amazing man and thanks to the love of his friends and family he will come through this with dignity and grace. I fully believe that because of your support he with come back to you more whole than he would without your support.
You are an amazing family and I wish you all the best. I would very much like to send Nate a letter if at all possible.

Thank you,


Charilyn & Mike said...

If you would like to write to Nate, please email me privately ( for his address.