EDITOR’S NOTE: Below, and with only minor modifications, I share a story published recently at SaveThisSoldier.com, the website run by CMSgt. John Stewart (USAF Ret.). Chief Stewart, by the way, is the father of former Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, a Green Beret combat veteran whose life story is chronicled in my first book, Three Days in August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice (October 201):
Current Status and Help Needed
After release from prison March 31, 2011, SFC Stewart was forced to move to Virginia where he lived in an old 20 foot camper in a very, very rural area near the Shenandoah Mountain range. His wife divorced him, taking away his two children. Over the next 3 years he did not have funds to purchase propane gas on a regular basis and suffered through cold winter nights without heat. A water hose running from a well froze, and there was no water and he frequently went to use a nearby river as the bathroom facility. Having little funds for payment during the heat of summer, he had to significantly reduce use of electric and was without air conditioning.
This past year, with the assistance of his parents, he was able to rent and move into an unfinished garage of an old home, one without heat or any comfort items. Due to the house being unfinished, it’s not a very secure home. This can be problematic for anyone living on their own, especially in a garage that could be easily accessed by strangers or burglars. To try and protect himself, he should seriously consider trying to install a wireless alarm system to make sure that his living space doesn’t get invaded, leaving him with nothing. Although his house doesn’t contain many material goods, it’s still important that he protects what he does have. When he first moved in, he purchased a used wood stove, ran a stovepipe, to have heat in the garage. Wood was hung on the wall for shelves for food items, etc. An old, worn-out couch and chair were purchased from a thrift shop for about $25. A used bed and work table was found, the table serving as somewhere to sit and eat. Found some cheap throw rugs from a thrift shop for the unfurnished floor. A used refrigerator with a bad door and no icemaker were found, as was a makeshift kitchen stove to cook on. He was unable to purchase a microwave oven. Lighting is rudimentary at best. In a joint room through a large opening is a portion used by the owner for repair to motorcycles and other items. Obviously odors and fumes permeate throughout the living area.
SFC Stewart has an entry-level job now at a local business (who’s the owner) stepped forward, (understanding) his situation and the outlandish conviction. Unfortunately, he makes a very, very small salary but it is the best that can be done for now. From that small amount of take-home pay he must pay a large child support payment, necessary utilities, food, insurance, and gas to get to work while using an old car purchased by his parents (with cheap car insurance required to keep it running), medical bills must be paid (he has extensive health issues from military service and his without VA health benefits), clothing, etc., etc., etc. Additionally, the United States Army has billed him for over $27,000 in back pay issues while on active duty and shortly will begin garnisheeing his pay for a monthly amount that appears to exceed his entire monthly income. This is where Stewart needs to think smart, reduce on his utilities and monthly rent to ensure he can make these payments. Most veterans set-up a business after leaving so they can get a passive income, this is where everyone could be looking into Utility Bidder to get these bills down! Furthermore, quite often, it can actually be a pleasant surprise to discover how much money you can save by finding new ways to reduce your utility bills. For example, quite a few people I know have managed to reduce their electricity costs by switching to a more affordable energy supplier. There are some amazing energy suppliers out there such as Gexa Energy that offer affordable rates and policies so do not be afraid to shop around to determine your best possible course of action.
For now though, his parents are attempting to find an affordable and livable home in the near area allowing him to commute to work and have the amenities of comfortable living. They will make the payments until SFC Stewart gets back on his feet with sufficient income to pay the mortgage. It is difficult to find a home because of the rural situation, which is the lowest populated County in the State. Few homes are for sale within an affordable bracket not only from the aspect of parents being able to afford it, but in SFC Stewart being able to assume those payments should the death of his elderly parents occur. Both mobile homes and fixed homes have been looked at by SFC Stewart and his parents during a recent visit. Almost every home that has been reviewed (and there have been many) that are affordable have been in absolutely atrocious conditions and would be a complete waste of money due to improvement needs. Nearly every home visited under $75k has been in terrible condition, but his parents nor SFC Kelly can purchase a home without assistance.
You can help.
Money is needed for purchase of a house that is livable and affordable. 100% of your donation will be used in the purchase of a home for this Soldier. How much is need? A lot. Consider that 20% of the price will be needed for down payment, possible closing costs, purchase of appliances and furniture will be necessary, deposits for utilities, etc., etc.
Will you help this Soldier who served his country with honor, only to be erroneously and unjustly convicted by a corrupt military justice system? If so, click on this secure link and use your existing PayPal Account, create one, or use a credit card to make a donation. Thank you for caring.
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After reading the piece above, I hope you’ll find a way to help Chief Stewart help his son by making a contribution to the cause. If you want to learn more about Kelly Stewart, please order a copy of Three Days in August, the book New York Times best selling author Richard Miniter described as “Well-written and thoroughly researched, Three Days In August paints a convincing portrait of a military justice process that appears to have lacked one essential element – justice.” Thanks in advance for anything you can do!
UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 1:18 p.m. Central: Check out the limited-time free-books offer here.by