Justice for Iraqi War Veteran Vernon (Trey) Travis III
Team Member: Jeanna Carlton
Dawn Brown wrote -We Need to Raise $50,000 For a Retrial for our Mentally "Wounded Soldier"
Iraqi War Veteran Vernon L. Travis III was sentenced to 55 years of prison time for a home invasion that occurred September 5, 2013. Having been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and drug induced anxiety Vernon “Trey’s” diagnosis was described by the Prosecuting Attorney in Kerr County, Scott Monroe, as “PTSD? Hog Wash!” As I paraphrase; he stated this term is just another excuse criminals can use to avoid responsibility for their crimes.
Yes – Vernon deserves consequences for his actions, but to be sentenced to 55 years means he will be 89 years old when he is released. His grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts will likely be dead, and his daughter will be 61 years old. This is cruel and unusual. The prosecutor aimed to send a message to “outsiders”, but sentencing Trey to 55 years in tantamount to a life sentence.
The expert witness for the Trey, Dr. Roache, is renowned for his research and clinical studies involving Traumatic stress and the soldiers’ reliance on drugs and alcohol to mask their traumatic experiences. He described Vernon “Trey’s classic symptoms. Dr. Roache has been contracted by the Department of Defense to explore the effects of past trauma in soldiers. While choosing the jury, Prosecutor Scott Monroe questioned the credibility of Psychiatry as a science.
In a letter to the editor to the Kerrville paper, I explained – If the citizens of Kerrville would shut down their drug, meth and crack-houses and stop feeding off the addictions of our veterans, our “outsiders” would not venture to their town. As in the “Field of Dreams”: If you build it, they will come.”
This is Trey's back story:
When I was a high school assistant principal, I talked to a military recruiter about college opportunities through the Air Force. Vernon was only 17, but I signed a waiver to allow him to join the military. Vernon took the aptitude battery and scored high enough to become an information management systems specialist. He joined the Air Force, went to basic training in Lackland AFB and went to advanced training in Mississippi. At the time, the US had not been in any major wars since Vietnam. The last thing we ever imagined was that within the year, we would be in war with Iraq. We never anticipated my son would trade books for a military weapon.
What was most surprising was that fact it was not Trey’s turn to be deployed. He volunteered to go in place of a female soldier. My oldest child turned 18 while in Iraq. I felt that I had betrayed him by encouraging him to get his formal education through the military, and what he received was a lesson in war, no degree, and thrown back into society with no college education or work skills.
When Trey returned, he was promoted, and received the Air Force Achievement Medal and the Operation Enduring Freedom Medal (Service in Iraq). Shortly, thereafter, he was dismissed from the Air Force for failing to keep his quarters cleaned to the standards of the military. He received a general discharge under honorable conditions. He received no out-processing physicals or psychological exams as documented by his discharge papers, but he had lost all ambition. His discharge papers reflected that the administrators were not given the time to properly out-process him. He was a changed person.
Trey enrolled in St. Philips Community college, but he also had to work. He earned an Education Aide Certification from the Texas Education Agency and became and Special Education Aide. He worked at an elementary school with Special Needs students. Although several of the children were non-verbal, they responded better to Vernon rather than the teacher. She often called Trey to calm students down. He would come home with his chin busted, bite marks and bruises daily, but he loved the kids and they loved him. During the summer, parents asked for Vernon to be a paid sitter to their children.
An opportunity for promotion came up for Trey and he earned a new position as an attendance clerk at a middle school. One of the children from the elementary school had moved up to the middle school and when the parents saw Trey, they were elated until they found that Trey was no longer with Special Education. Once the middle school staff realized Trey’s ability to calm the young child, Trey would often be called from the attendance office to assist in the Special Needs room.
Although Trey was in the education system, his income was below poverty level. He struggled to make ends meet as he tried to provide for his new baby and her mother. To supplement his income, he would often take on odd jobs. During one particular incident, a friend of his said he’d pay him to share the drive on a long trip to California to see relatives. It was during that time, the friend and Trey were detained and put on probation for transportation of marijuana.
Trey was released on probation and spent the past 5 years paying his debt to Arizona and Texas, both of which were collecting funds in some type of interstate agreement. He had completed his payments to Arizona and had only to wait out time to complete his conditions of probation with the Arizona system.
While on probation, he was tested for drugs monthly, randomly, and his tests were always negative. What was not detected was his reliance on alcohol and prescription medication to mask his ever-growing depression and despair.
During September 2013, he had been on a self-medicating binge for three consecutive days. After telling me he was going to San Antonio to see his daughter, I received a call telling me he was in jail for the charges for the home invasion of a known drug dealer
Please help us reduce Trey’s sentence. He needs to pay, but not with his life. I have exhausted my financial resources and am in desperate need of your support in waging an appeal within the next 20 days.