“My family was devastated, other families were devastated. No sailor should sleep in a car to survive.”
Still, that's what Rich Rodriguez said he had to do, after the Navy fired him to balance out overmanned positions.
He was one of the 3,000 sailors selected for separation by the Enlisted Retention Board last year.
The final day of his 11-year Navy career was Sept. 1st, 2012.
“That Sept. 2nd, I was still looking for jobs, still looking for stability for my family, so I lived out of my car, lived out of hotels. I was going from city to city, town to town, trying to find a job,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez eventually found one and tried to move on with his life as a career counselor here in Virginia Beach.
Then came yet another slap in the face from the Navy who suddenly announced this year they were hiring again.
“Losing 3,000 sailors for no reason is frustrating, now they need 8,600 more? Where are they getting these numbers?” said Rodriguez.
Those numbers came in the 2014 Pentagon budget released this week.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert admitted that the Navy had cut too many people, and needed more sailors to come aboard—even shelling out big bonuses to keep experienced sailors in.
“It makes my blood boil.”
Eric Clevinger was another one of the sailors cut by ERB. He lived in Hampton Roads, but was forced to relocate to Northern Virginia to find a job.
“Now you are saying you undershot? Now you say you’re hurting for 3,000?” said Clevinger.
“It’s very frustrating, we always knew deep down that this was going to turn around and blow up in everybody's faces,” said Rodriguez. “Now they are giving 90,000 bonuses for the same job I was doing.”
Fran Castro is engaged to be married to an ERB sailor.
We tried to talk to them over Skype today but could only catch them by phone.
“We are talking over the phone because we are currently homeless,” said Castro. “This is the second time during this last year for us being homeless due to the Navy violating their contracts and saying ‘Too bad, time for you guys to go home,’ with basically nothing after almost 14 years of service.”
These families have taken to social media, inundating the CNO's Facebook page, trying to make their voices heard.
“They never respond, or they block you, or delete you,” said Castro.
“It felt like someone was oppressing that viewpoint, because no one wants to see the truth and the effects of a bad decision,” said Rodriguez.
The Navy's official stance is that the ERB was needed to balance over manned ratings where sailors had been unable to advance for years.
They also say the go-ahead to hire again didn't come until after ERB was executed.
Many families we talked to today don't agree; that's why many of them are suing for any pay and benefits lost as a result of their contracts being cancelled.