is peacetime and your child enters into the military ~ you think that they
are safe ~ after all there is no war so what could possibly happen?
You are never
prepared for that knock on the door ~ to see men in uniform standing before
you and before they utter a word you somehow know whey they are there.
As the words "I am so very sorry........" are said you know that there
is a mistake ~ you child cannot be dead ~ it is peacetime ~ so your child
must be somewhere safe. As you try to comprehend what you are
being told you now hear the words "suicide." They are telling you
that your child has taken his or her own life. You know that this
cannot be true ~ there is no way that your child would have done this.
As the days
start to pass and the shock of your child's death is now becoming a reality
you are finding that many things that you are being told just do not make
any sense. There are so many missing pieces and it seems that there
are either no investigations or the investigations that they have completed
are lacking in many, many ways.
is of no help and most likely tells you that their reports will remain
as they were written. They certainly do not tell you that there are
many other families all across the country who are facing the same problems
as you are. The last thing that they want is for you to be in contact
with another family who is going through the same thing. So instead
what they do is discredit you, call you a greiving parent, tell you that
you misunderstand just about everything that they have told you and yes
they even call you crazy.
What do you
do ~ where do you go for help. Prior to 1992 many families thought
they were all alone in their struggle to find the truth. It wasn't
until a reporter named Peter Cary wrote a story for US News And World Report
that they found out that they weren't. Peter did a story about mysterious
deaths in the military and the military's investigative failures.
One by one
those that read his story contacted Peter and he gave the names and information
of other families that he had spoken to. By Peter doing this people
were finally able to speak with someone who was also facing not only the
loss of a child but the same obstacles that they were. He allowed
them to do what the military had hoped would never happen. They were
able to not only communicate but to organize and in November 1992 "Until
We Have Answers" was formed. At that time there were 8 members.
JAMES V. GARDNER
The name "Until
We Have Answers" was chosen by Robyn Hall. We began a letter writing
campaign. We had members of our families and friends join us as we
wrote to sepecific list of media and government contacts, addressing each
one at a specific date, so they would hear from us all at once.
We were able
to attract much media attention, which then got us the attention of our
state representatives and senators, and with the help of the aides of Representatives
Pallone (New Jersey) and Levy (New York), were able to set up a meeting
with the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel in May 1993.
to this, ABC news program 20/20 did a story on three of the children of
group members: Kirk Vanderbur, Scott Jakovic and Michael Leslie.
all the local and national publicity we'd received, our hopes were very
high for substantive reform and answers in our individual cases when we
met in Washington. However, despite all our work, and subsequent
legislation and numerous re-investigations by the DOD, we have yet to see
a single case reversed. The investigative agencies have made some
changes in the rules for investigating self-inflicted deaths, but we are
still seeing cases where these rules are not applied; further, we do not
feel the changes were substantive enought to enforce real change.
As a group,
we've worked long and hard, with little result. Many of us have chosen
to go on with our lives and try to accept what we cannot change, others
are still actively pursuing their cases. However, we remain united
in our goal of educating the public and supporting those parents who have
yet to endure this agony.