Troubleshooter: Soldier waits on National Guard discharge papers

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A soldier was left waiting for months for an important document that he could not get his hands on.

Sergeant Derrick Speed spent the last 15 years serving his country. However, when his unit was dismissed earlier than expected, the North Carolina National Guard failed to give him the necessary documents.

"He was supposed to get off September 30th, and then in the beginning of August they said we don't have enough money to keep you, we have to let you go so they ended his orders early," said his wife, Mary.

Mary said her husband scrambled to find work, but it wasn't easy.

"We have five kids, at the time my daughter was almost six months old, it was hard," Mary said. "We lost our insurance when he stopped working so we didn't have that."

Sgt. Speed applied for unemployment, but he was missing an important document referred to as a DD214. The unemployment office told his wife that nothing could be done until this form was received.

A DD214 is commonly referred to as discharge papers. The question remains, why wasn't Sgt. Speed given this form after his orders ended early?

"They said it was back logged and could take up to 4 months and I said, 'What are we going to do until then?'" Mary said.

Mary said her husband emailed and tried to get answers from the National Guard, but five months after his active duty orders ended, there were still no discharge papers. The Speeds' bills continued to pile up.

"It affected our family a lot. Our phones got turned off for a little bit, we were borderline our lights almost got turned off. Because we couldn't get any assistance, we didn't qualify for nothing and he couldn't get anything," Mary said.

Frustrated, the Speeds turned to ABC11 for help.

"What else can we do? I've contacted everyone else; I've even sent letters to Senator Price's office," Mary said.

We contacted the NC National Guard and the next day, the Speeds got what they were so desperately waiting for.

"It took a day. I talked to you that morning and that evening it was posted. It's like, why did it take so long?" Mary asked.

But Mary still has questions.

"It has to be something better. He serves, he protects, but what about him what about his family? How come we get the short end of the stick?"

After the DD214 form finally arrived, Sgt. Speed was able to get his full unemployment that dated back to when his orders originally ended in August.

Since then, Sgt. Speed has found a job.

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