Last week, Army Staff Sergeant Ricardo Branch received notice that a decision had been made in his third and final appeal. Aware that he could not access the documents without a Common Access Card reader, he had two options: go to his unit, where he reluctantly admitted to me that he wouldn’t be comfortable, or go to the base library. Branch chose to go to the library.
After logging in to one of the available computers, he downloaded the lengthy document and prepared to begin sifting through it for the important news – but he didn’t have to. Right there on the first page, in black and white, he read the words, “we regret to inform you,” and he already knew the rest. His two-year fight to stay in the Army, and indeed his entire thirteen year career as a soldier, were over just like that. No ceremony, no medal pinned on his chest, not even a pleasant luncheon.
This is where it really sucks,” Branch told me over the phone, “where it really hits me in the heart. I wanted to scream, unfortunately that wasn’t an option. I was in a library, surrounding by soldiers in uniform, carrying on with their day… it was like getting punched in the face, and not being able to make a sound.”
Three months ago, SOFREP brought you the story of Staff Sergeant Ricardo Branch, a public affairs soldier previously assigned the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). In February of 2014, Branch was tasked with reviewing an article by his superior officer that was set for publication in Boeing’s internal news service. That story included a single sentence that suggested the 160th were involved in the historic raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.