Damaged and Discharged
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 17, 2009
by: Julia O’Malley
September 17, 2009
John Mayo had mayhem etched in his skin. I noticed it when I first saw him in the lobby of the Daily News. Sleeve tattoos. Black skulls, explosions and flames. Demon drill sergeants. A rifle made to look like a deadly cartoon.
He introduced himself and his wife, Ellie. He carried their baby, Cason, in a car seat. I showed them into a room where we could talk. Mayo limped when he walked and held his shoulders tight, his T-shirt flagging over muscle and bone.
I asked them to come by after speaking with his mother-in-law. She had called asking for help. She told me he had been kicked out of the Army for committing a crime he didn’t remember.
It was late August. It had been about a month since he’d left the Army. He was discharged for shoplifting at the Base Exchange. Now they were broke. Neither he nor Ellie had a job. They were halfway homeless, camped out in a house under construction in Wasilla.
Mayo pushed a piece of paper across the table. It was written by the defense attorney at his military discharge proceeding. It summarized his record as a soldier. He deployed to Iraq from Fort Richardson in 2006 with about 3,500 others in the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. He was in Iraq for more than a year.
The document said Mayo had never been in serious trouble before. On the day in April he was accused of shoplifting, the document said, he was heavily medicated for post-traumatic stress disorder and a knee injury. He had Army-written prescriptions for painkillers, anti-depressants, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety drugs and anti-psychotic medications.
“Mayo has no recollection of committing the larceny,” his lawyer wrote.