I am a proud veteran, having served six years and one month in the world's finest Navy. I stress the one month because it hampered my eligibility in applying to the Coast Guard's Officer Candidate School last year (my enlistment was extended due to ''the needs of the Navy,'' clearly printed on my DD-214 discharge form).
However, I had already underwent the process once before under the same stipulations in 2009, and I was told by my Coast Guard recruiter not to worry about this additional month of Navy service. Well, during that cycle, I made the alternate list (essentially a waiting list for other selectees to back or fail out).
During the process, I was told that if I was not selected upon my first attempt to reapply upon finishing my master's degree; that, in fact, some officers had applied as many as six times prior to being picked up. In 2012, I completed my graduate degree and reapplied.
This time I had another recruiter who put me through all the same paperwork, medical exams, criminal background checks and testing; a notably time-consuming process. Then, in an effort to ensure I would not encounter problems over this additional month of honorable service from interrupting my application package, I brought this to the attention of the selection board; thereafter, I was immediately informed that I was ineligible, and no waivers would be entertained.
By now, I had already taken a number of days off work for interviews, medical exams and testing. Yet it was only a problem after I brought this to the selection board's attention. Despite requesting reconsideration of a waiver based on all they had already put me through, they refused. By giving the Coast Guard a basic arithmetic lesson I hindered my own prospects for selection.
Thereafter, I asked Congressman Ryan's office for assistance. I wrote, called, emailed, faxed and repeated this process a number of times. The only thing I received in return was a generic letter stating ''Thank you for the opportunity to serve you ...'' To date I have not received a response from Ryan's office; not a ''sorry we can't help'' letter, a returned phone call, email or any correspondence of any sort.
Naturally, this experience soured my opinion of Mr. Ryan, especially given the situation was essentially employment-based (what's the unemployment rate in the Valley these days?). I believe Mr. Ryan could have assisted me had he chosen to, especially considering he served on the Armed Services Committee in 2012.
It is important to mention that I would not have asked for assistance had the USCG not put me through the entire application process, twice. I simply wanted to serve again, and bringing to the table former military service, proficiency in a foreign language, international experience and a master's degree, I know I could have made a contribution to the Coast Guard.
This experience was very disappointing, and people in the Valley should be aware of Congressman Ryan's interpretation of ''constituent services.''
R. Jeff Kuti