Food stamps, foreclosure, and unemployment: ERB sailors on life after the Navy

Posted at 10:38 AM, Apr 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-17 10:38:15-04

"Depression, sadness, and frustration.”

Michael Pitt tries to describe how he feels about life after the Navy.

He grew up in a four-generation Navy family. But now, his identity as a sailor is gone after he was fired by the Enlisted Retention Board.

As for life as a civilian:

”We are on food stamps,” said Pitt. “I’ve been unemployed going on 8-9 months now, unable to find full-time employment.”

Fired ERB sailors outraged as Navy suddenly says ‘We’re hiring!’

The mortgage to his Virginia Beach house: One month behind.
The engine to the only car his family has: Out of commission.

“For the time being, I got put on hold for a job because I can't go to the follow-up interview,” said Pitt.

The fall from American hero to below the poverty level is a tough pill to swallow - but he is not alone.

“It feels like the world is on your shoulders. I am about to lose my house.”

Suffolk resident Richard Hamilton is in Kansas City right now trying to find a job to help pay the mortgage he is now two months behind on.

“I bought the house because I figured I was secure, that I would be able to finish off my 20 years and be able to retire to pay for my mortgage. Unfortunately, Big Navy decided they no longer wanted us sailors,” said Hamilton.

‘It doesn't feel really good at all…its shocking still at the impact of the decision to send a good sailor home.”

Newport News resident Tony Caudill has a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautics, and still can't find steady work.

He says it’s all thanks to the Navy breaching what these formers sailors thought was a legally binding contract.

"It kind of makes me angry because two years earlier, I signed a six-year commitment to get past this, then lo and behold, bam! I’m gone,” said Pitt.

“All of a sudden, they say ‘We don't need you, there is too many of you, we are going to send you home,’ but yet you find out, they are still hiring people. Why?” said Caudill.

The legal fight over that contract is still awaiting a decision by a federal court judge in Oklahoma. 300 sailors have filed so far.

The Navy filed a motion to dismiss or give summary judgment, their argument being that the authority for enlistment is not empowered by the signed contract but by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.