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Civilian life more painful than wartime service for Port veteran!

PORT JERVIS, NY -- Thirty-nine-year-old Brian Negrette served in both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army. In 2003, Negrette was among the first deployed by President Bush to Iraq.

During a combined nearly 12-years of service in America’s military forces, he completed multiple tours around the world policing quadrants of oceans with the Navy. He then went on to serve in the Army, where he handled diverse specialized assignments and duties.

Despite his years of service and that of generations of others in his family, Negrette returned home to painful struggles that have plagued him as a civilian. He attributes Covid-19 tenant regulations as having impacted his overall life in the most damaging and far-reaching of ways.

“I used my VA loan to get a house in Port Jervis, New York. Covid hit. Then tenants used ERAP (Emergency Rental Assistance Program) rules to stay longer (in the rental portion of his house), with no rent paid. Four years later, as of Nov 2, my house foreclosed without my even being able to evict,” Negrette said.

Negrette had been renting out part of his Port Jervis house when issues arose with the tenants. Instead of being able to evict his tenants through pre-pandemic channels, it was Negrette who was ordered to leave the house. He is currently renting a room on a farm in Jeffersonville.

“I worked to evict my tenants three months before the Covid moratorium, but my court date was four days after Covid hit. They haven’t paid rent since October of 2019, and my case stalled because of ERAP provisions,” Negrette said.

Negrette complied and rented a room in Port Jervis. However, with no rent coming in he could not keep up with his bills. He blames the court system and laws that protect non-paying tenants with creating his current situation.

“They refused to do anything until I lost everything; my house, custody of my son, my dog, car, and truck. All finances go toward my son’s lawyer. That’s my battle coming home,” Negrette said.

Negrette found himself homeless, as he also was for a time after his military discharge.

At that time, he had broken his right leg, had no home, and sought new direction for his life.

“I drove with a cast to various veteran shelters. I would sleep in veteran parks, but would be thrown out. I went to New York City to get back on with my life; go to college, get a job and a wife. That obviously didn’t work out, so I moved away to have my peace of mind,” Negrette said.

Before losing his Port Jervis house, Negrette had 50/50 shared custody of his son. His current circumstances, and what he views as court favoring of his son’s mother, have removed this arrangement.

“Losing my home was the nail in the coffin, and now all of my money is spent on lawyer fees,” he said.

Negrette’s life seems always to have been a tough one.

While he recalls having what he needed growing up, he lived in a town where boys became men fast.

Born on September 19, 1984 in Mountain View, California, Negrette grew up in Modesto, CA where there were hard gangs and many civilian issues to deal with. He says he learned early on that hard work and discipline are respected by all walks of life. He prides himself in employing both.

As a student, he maintained a 4.2 GPA at San Louis Obis Obispo’s Grizzly Youth Academy/Military School. He graduated at 17, and that same year, just three months after 9/11, he joined the Navy.

For Negrette, it was never a question of ‘if’ he would serve his nation through the military. His dad, Ruben Garcia Negrette served two tours in Vietnam; first as infantry, then as a 50cal helicopter gunner. His oldest brother, Ruben Ray Negrette served 20 years in the Air Force, starting as a mailman in Korea, and later flew predator drones. His second oldest brother, Vince Negrette, served with the Air Force in Spain.

“I always knew this was my path, too, but didn’t know how it would unfold. I felt like a soldier from a young age,” Negrette said.

Negrette served four years in the Navy, where was as a Gunner’s mate 2nd Class Surface Warfare (GM2 SW) on the guided missile cruiser USS Anzio CG-68. He then served 2.8 years in the Army Infantry Airborne Bomb Squad. He completed 6.8 years Active and four Inactive military years of service.

Despite his struggles upon returning to civilian life, Negrette views a positive from his military years as long-lasting self-discipline to always do what is right. Even if it costs him everything. He did not, however, predict what he views as the biggest negative impact of his military years.

“I feel my military career has been used as a weapon by saying I’m “dangerous” based on my military training. My career has been tarnished in the court’s eyes by my countrymen who spit in my face and see me as ‘Rambo’ since I’ve been back, based on the jobs I had in my military career. My service has been used as a way to take my son away,” he said. “I love my family, God and Country regardless of how they feel about me. That’s what unconditional love is.”

As Veterans Day is celebrated across the nation he loves, Negrette says he is happy to see faces of vets on downtown street posters, war monuments in veteran parks, and respect in some towns. However, as a disabled veteran himself he feels more needs to be done for America’s veterans.

“I would hope people think about humanity and brotherhood, and how we can rebuild our great nation without division on any level,” Negrette said. “This is more than most people can handle, but so is Iraq. I went to war, and I can do this.”

By Sharon E. Siegel - November 11, 2023

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