Letter to U.S. Congressman Heath Schuler



July 27, 2011

Congressman Heath Schuler
205 College Street,
Asheville, North Carolina  28801

Dear Mr. Eaton,

Thank you for meeting with me and Matthew to discuss his concern of receiving no reply to his request to change the less-than-honorable discharge rating for his service in the Marines in Afghanistan to honorable.

Enclosed are letters that were provided to the Asheville Veteran’s Affairs Office for its assisting Matthew in changing the status of his military service so he could receive benefits with others who have served their country.  The items enclosed are as follows:

1.  Letter to Veteran Advocate, dated June 26, 2009, an overview of why we were supporting Matthew in his efforts to get the military to recognize his service in Afghanistan as honorable.  The letter went with a full binder of information that was passed on by the advocate to the U.S. Navy in Washington.  Matthew has since been diagnosed by a family counselor for the State of North Carolina as having PTSD from events that occurred while he was serving his country. 

2.  Letter to Senator Dole’s office dated December 3, 2005, requesting a Congressional Hearing on events that happened to Matthew while serving in the Marines.

3.  Letter to Senator Dole’s office dated December 13, 2005, explaining that we had contacted Matthew at his base in Hawaii, trying to obtain more information on his request for a hearing.

4.  Letter of character reference, dated January 23, 2006, to Captain Winchell, investigating Matthew’s case for U.S. Marine Hawaii Camp Commander Cooling.

5.  Handwritten letter by Army Staff Sergeant for Senator Dole’s office.  The sergeant served in communications with the Marines at Matthew’s Marine camp in Afghanistan, giving testimony of seeing Matthew struck by other Marines while noting Matthew’s professionalism after the attack.  As a point of record, Matteson is no longer in the Military.  You should know he and his father had personally shipped thousands of shoes for use by Afghan women and children.

6.  Letter from Senator Dole, dated March 21, 2006, of Matthew’s request for a Congressional hearing denied.   Note Dole’s office simply forwarded the letter to Matthew and never challenged it first.  The letter from the Department of U.S. Navy and signed by N.E. Gipson made no reference to the following:  a.) Stealing of personal items out of Matthew’s tent while he was in Afghanistan.  b.) Staff Sergeant’s letter of witnessing Matthew being physically struck by a few other Marines.  c.) Matthew’s attack by the same Marines, his nose crushed on a toilet bowl.  You can compare Matthew sitting in front of you today with the picture of him in uniform from Camp LeJeune, noting today his nose is severely bent.  It is a daily reminder to him in a mirror of his abuse by other Marines.  d.) Matthew being called a terrorist by Commander Cooling while the battalion was in formation.  I had questioned Commander Cooling on this on the phone.   He said any Marine that takes drugs is a terrorist.  Matthew had been placed in chains in solitary confinement for a month before being sent home.  e.) Matthew had openly allowed a drug test of his blood, it showing only codeine.  f.) Finally, the letter acknowledged Matthew’s service in Iraq, when he had never served in Iraq but in Afghanistan.

7.  Letter from Department of Navy dated July 11, 2006, advising Matthew he was barred from the installations in Hawaii, naming eight of them specifically.  It read as if Matthew was a suspect of treason.

8.  Handwritten letter from Matthew to his parents when he was serving in Afghanistan, referencing his going to Bible studies.  At the time he reported to me he had made friends with some of the Afghan freedom fighters, learning bits and pieces of their language.  I discovered later Matthew had hung around them and the staff sergeant to escape the harassment from the few privates that were continuing to physically assault him, my understanding they made fun of him for the relationship.  Cooling in a phone call had admitted two of Matthew’s attackers had been sent home, but no mention why.

Since leaving the Marines Matthew has been angry all the time, quick to anger, going from job to job and now through two marriages, not the kid we sent to the Marines on November of 2003.

Matthew, being small and in special learning classes in high school, was always picked on by the jocks, one kid putting Matthew’s picture up on the Web as a painted face monkey.  The school wouldn’t discipline their star baseball player so we went to the Star Ledger Newspaper, where the school allowing the abuse was made public.  Only then did the student take down the Web site.  We could have sued for slander, but we didn’t.  Matthew’s abuse as a special education child also included having his lunch money stolen, pushed against lockers, and one night being hung by his feet from the top of the flagpole in front of the high school.

So you can fully understand my delight, after Matthew’s successful graduation from Camp LeJeune, when he was ready to fly out to Afghanistan with his bros telling me in a 30-second phone call from the airport, “I’ve finally earned the respect to be one of the guys.” 

He has recently changed his attitude, now involved with weight lifting and different eating habits to counter his memories of abuse, my watching him order a chicken salad with water the other night.  He even runs several miles during the week late at night, ignoring bully teens making fun of him as they drive by.

So if there is any further question why I asked to be in attendance at this meeting in Congressman’s Shuler’s Asheville office, I hope it’s finally put to bed.







"Freedom is Knowledge"