My soldier is stationed in Europe. He has not been home on leave for nearly two years. The last time he was due to come home, he was on a mission in Georgia and Russia invaded. My son's leave was yanked.
Yesterday, I learned to my great joy, that he had signed and approved leave papers in hand and would be coming home for over three weeks, beginning in mid-December. If you've never gone TWO LONG YEARS without seeing your first-born child, you can't begin to imagine what it's like. I immediately searched the web for the best air fare and booked his flight HOME.
When making the reservation, I was asked for his passport number and expiration date. I emailed my son, asking him to send me this info. I got his response this morning. He has no passport. He was barely 18 when he left for basic training. He's traveled throughout his military career using his military ID. Since January of 2008, that is no longer suitable for air travel. He will not be permitted to board the plane without a passport.
When he entered the service, we explained to the recruiter that the name my son used was not the name on his birth certificate. His biological father had left us and my son took my second husband's name. His social security card and every other ID that a minor child holds, bore the name he went by. However, his birth certificate had an entirely different moniker. The recruiter assured us that this would not present a problem and that the army would take care of the discrepancy. After all, they had plenty of lawyers on staff.
It's five years later. The army has taken my son overseas. They are telling him they cannot help him get a passport because the name on his birth certificate does not match the name on his military ID. They told him he'd need to have the name change addressed by the local court when he returned home on leave. How can he come home on leave without a passport? He can't.
The army has essentially made him a prisoner. Unless I can shake loose a semi-cooperative contact over there who can force the army to live up to its promises, my son can not return to the USA until he is reassigned to the states and flown here on a military plane. Commercial airlines will not honor his military ID and allow him to board a plane.
I have contacted my state senator. I don't expect a speedy response, given it was election day today. I emailed the American Embassy in the country where my son is stationed. There is only so much I can do from my end. My hands are tied.
My youngest son was 13 the last time he saw his older brother. PacMan has literally grown a foot since that time. He shaves now. His voice has changed. His older brother will barely recognize him whenever they finally see each other again.
I'm absolutely devastated. My heart is breaking. I want to see my son.