Oct 07



Army Certificate of Training


After all of the testing I went through during in-processing, I was told that I needed take a few classes in order to be eligible for early release or parole. If I did not take the classes then I was basically saying that I was not remorseful for my crimes. This was not a problem for me, I was willing to do it and I wanted out of prison as fast as possible.

The psych specialist that assessed me decided that the ones I needed for rehabilitation were; Stress Management, Advanced Stress Management, Narcotics Anonymous, Drug and Alcohol Related Incidents, Social and Coping Skills and Reality Therapy. Most of these were pretty standard and I would take them one at a time as slots opened up. NA was an exception, I would start attending that class as soon as I was sent up into the general population. It was decided that I would be in medium custody.

On the educational assessment, I scored above a 12th grade level on everything but math. I struggled with math in high school because I hated it. My score landed me at a 9th grade level. So instead of starting a job right away, I was assigned to Detail 5, Academic Day School. This was a tutoring program designed to get inmates lower scores up to the level acceptable to take college courses. College classes were offered by the University of Kansas. The tutors teaching the classes were inmates who were former officers.

We also received our work detail assignments. I wanted to work in the barber shop, it was my number one choice. My second and third choices were the chapel and the library. Ft. Leavenworth had the largest library in the U. S. Correctional System. The jobs I did not want were; janitor, laundry and dining facility.

My assignment was Detail 44, Dining Facility. Getting this assignment frustrated me. The only good thing about this job was, because no one wanted to do it, the abatement was higher. This meant that I would receive more credit towards early release. Some of the least liked jobs had this benefit. This also meant I had to take a food handlers class in order to learn about sanitation.

I finally decided to write the letter to the Zweibruecken chapel youth group. I wasn’t sure how to start it so I copied the intro from the style of Paul from the Bible. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ!” That is what he wrote in his letters to churches and so I felt it was appropriate.

I wrote in the letter about my history growing up, attending church, leaving home to join the Army, and my introduction into the drug culture. Instead of turning to God, in my moment of weakness, I turned to drugs. I talked about how I got into selling, my arrest and then going AWOL to Houston. From there my further spiral into more types, quantities and increased frequency of drugs. How my need for more drugs led to other criminal behavior and then my trips back to Fort Polk to increase my market of buyers. I continued on with the rest of all my stupidity, ending up in jail and overdosing, and how God let me continue on until He was ready to stop me. I wrote about my final arrest, court martial and confinement.

In the summary this is what I wrote, “I’m glad I got caught. I was out of control and probably would have been dead by the end of 1990. I might have overdosed again and never woke back up. I might have gotten killed in a bad drug deal. In one year I turned from a decent Christian into a junkie criminal. I believe this all happened for a reason though. I’m still young and I won’t be here forever. When I get out, I will be able to share my experiences with someone who might be headed in the same direction I went. It’s so easy to get lured into drugs these days. If you do it once, you will do it again. There are two morals to this story. One is just say NO! Drugs are a dead end street. You will either end up in a hospital, in prison, or dead. Almost all my friends from Ft. Polk went to jail for drugs. Some of them will go back to the same old stuff. As for me, I’ve learned my lesson. Moral number two is, no matter how badly you have messed up, or no matter what you have done, God will forgive you and accept you back into his flock. You have to be sincere about giving up your old sinful life, and turning over a new leaf for your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Like I said at the beginning of this letter, I hope I’ve helped someone out there and I pray that none of you ever get in the position where you have to decide whether or not to take drugs. Keep me in your prayers! Love in Christ, David Mike.”

Once I was finished, I sealed it up and sent it to Germany. Sending this letter was very therapeutic, and I felt pretty good about myself for writing it. Truthfully, I didn’t believe everything I wrote, even though there were some pretty powerful statements in there. I can’t say they fully resonated with my heart. Wanting to sound Godly and legitimate I stole things I read in the Bible or heard in church. Even though I might have been saying things that made sense in my situation, it was like I was directing it all towards the recipient. It was almost like I was removed from the actual events. The psych specialist was right, I needed that reality therapy class.

Maybe one of the kids in the group would benefit from hearing the letter. It is very possible God could use this letter for His glory, but only if He wanted to.

Letter (Click to Tweet)

Next post I’m moved up into the general population.

  • Writing therapy started long ago and continues as you tell your story.

    • David Mike

      Yes, who knew that this would be going on today!

  • I love that even then, you were deeply considering how you could take poor choices and allow God to redeem both them and you!

    • David Mike

      I am very sure that the reason I “waited” until now to tell my story, was because I was not mature enough to handle it. So thankful that I have the chance now! I appreciate your support!

  • I love that you have so many concrete records from this time in your life so that you can include excerpts in your book; it definitely lends a strong sense of integrity to your story. And, of course, as a reader, it’s frustrating to know that you are just tossing about the Christianese you heard growing up, you know? I mean, I know you at this point in your life, so I know where you’ll be after this experience, but from a storytelling perspective, if I didn’t know your story, this would be frustrating and concerning; that you were going to end up back where you started because you still just weren’t getting it, you know?

    Will you explain what the classes and therapies included? I’m not familiar with all of the things these classes involve.

    And I love what Charles said, too; you started writing your story with God long ago and the two of you are still writing it now. Amazing how God works; and it’s a bit like Abraham’s journey – the promise He waited 25 years for God to fulfill. It would be so easy to just quit and give up instead of moving forward and holding on…

    • David Mike

      I did have good intentions with the letter to the youth group. I can tell by the tone of the letter to my parents that I was not mature enough to handle the situation. I made a comment like “I finally got off my butt and wrote that letter.” Trying to make fun of my procrastination. I am not proud of the fact but, I still at this point in the story did not fully understand how bad this situation was that I got myself into. I was doing a good deed because I thought that it was the right thing to do, that was it. Also, in the story I continued to make some bad choices. Don’t want to mention yet, but it’s not over.

      I only remember the NA classes. The others are kind of forgotten and I think they had virtually no impact.

      I feel that God is writing my story, I can tell when I take over because there is not as much impact.

      I appreciate all your input, making me think as I write!

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