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Dear Joe: An Example of Female Loyalty & Honor In the 21st Century

Filed under: General — Intrepid @ 3:57 pm Tue 25th July 2006

DATELINE: US (Grand Ledge) & IRAQ
Author: Scott Rees
From : F4J (US)
Via: The Honor Network

By SCOTT REES Staff Writer

GRAND LEDGE – For the past week, Joe McNeilly’s phone has been ringing off the hook. He’s been contacted by newspapers, radio shows, and even the major television networks.

That’s the way he wants it.

McNeilly, a Grand Ledge resident and specialist with the Army National Guard, said he believes he lost custody of his 10-year-old son, Joey, because he was in Iraq for 15 months.

“This is the awareness we’ve needed. It’s great,” he said. He said he’s already been approached by other soldiers in the similar predicament.

However, the boy’s mother and his ex-girlfriend – Holly Erb, of Mason, her lawyer, and the Friend of the Court, say McNeilly lost custody because of his parenting skills.

The court referee’s report found that Erb had established a custodial environment for the child while McNeilly was deployed.

A hearing set for Wednesday, Aug. 24, before Ingham County Family Judge Janelle Lawless was postponed. A new date has not been set.

The custody battle has spurred a media blitz locally and nationally and attracted the attention of local politicians. State Rep. Rick Jones, introduced legislation this past week barring courts from using soldiers’ absence for active duty against them in custody hearings.

Jones said t 15 to 20 similar custody issues state-wide have arisen in the past three years.

“Do I expect this legislation to help me? No … but somebody needs to do this. This will help our fellow soldiers who are coming back,” McNeilly said.

Before his deployment in January, 2004, McNeilly and Erb shared joint custody. The child spent one week with his dad and one week with his mother, who also lived in Grand Ledge at the time.

Erb had petitioned for full custody of the child seven months after McNeilly joined the National Guard in 2003.

McNeilly said he agreed to temporarily give the mother full custody of their son and was told the issue would be revisited upon his return. Instead, the court referee recommended against restoring the original agreement and instead gave McNeilly visitation rights for every other weekend and on holidays.

In a recommendation, court referee Louis Belzer expressed concern over e-mail correspondences between the McNeilly and his son during his time in Iraq.

Belzer said the e-mails display a much different relationship than a typical parent-child relationship, and more as a “counterpart to share his military adventure.”

Belzer wrote, “I also question the nature of some of the correspondence relating to how to kill people in multiple ways and then indicating that ‘next time someone touches you and leaves bruises on you, I’ll be ready.’ ”

Belzer said McNeilly seemed more of the disposition to be a friend and buddy rather than a parent.

McNeilly said his statements were taken out of context and he was merely telling his son that if anyone hurt him, he should come to his father.

As for sharing his life in the military, what young boy hasn’t played with G.I. Joes, he asked.

Belzer’s report stated McNeilly was married in January, 2004, while in the military and on active status, residing with his wife and three step-children in Grand Ledge.

The referee’s report said McNeilly made a general reference to spending part of the time with his wife, and also time at his parents house and his sister’s house. He denied marital difficulties.

The referee, in his recommendation to the judge, determined that Erb would provide Joey with a more stable environment as she now resides with her husband, a step-child, and a new child by her husband.

“Them pulling him out of a consistent environment (in Grand Ledge) of six years. That doesn’t make sense,” McNeilly said.

McNeilly filed an objection to the recommendations claiming incorrect procedural information regarding the temporary order, the referee stated information incorrectly, and biased direction of the friend of the court against men.

McNeilly also stated the referee failed to mention and take into account Erb’s negative actions. She was the defendant in the case.

He claims Erb intentionally made it difficult for him to keep in consistent contact with his son, not responding to e-mails and phone calls inquiring about grades and his son’s well-being.

“Why do I have to go through this? Why does anybody have to go through this? I mean, we’re parents,” McNeilly said.

“Give me time with my son, I’ve earned it,” he added.

21st Century Dear Joe Letter Might go like this:

Dear Joe,
I’ve found another bloke and I’m taking your kid. Dad stepping on an IUD isn’t good for a child. I’m really concerned about the child.


  1. Intrepid,

    When it comes to a situation like this I suppose people don’t know what to comment. How can one express feelings into words of what this male and many more are and will go through for putting their life on their line to fight not just for their country but global terrorism. They are HEROES and should not have to lose the children whose pictures they carry around with them and give them the reason to fight and duck and keep on for day after day, month after month and year after year. They should not have to come home to find everything ripped from under them.

    Also, how do you stop children from knowing what goes on in the world? They learn about it at school and they learn from outside influences. If parents do not give the explanations then children will use their imagination along with thier own perception and that itself can be damaging.

    How can you deny a father from e-mailing or talking on the phone to his children while he knows today just might be the last day of his life.

    Comment by julie — Wed 26th July 2006 @ 8:45 pm

  2. Dear Julie,
    Yes, and I’m sure some of them walk into enemy fire wanting death, like suicide by cop, and therefore no one knows about their death like an unknown soldier in a way.

    Comment by Intrepid — Wed 26th July 2006 @ 10:00 pm

  3. I apprecaite the attention and the comments. 3 years later — I still haven’t gotten anywhere. The 3 lawyers i’ve dealt with are horrible. My case gets thrown out because my lawyer made a mistake in her filing. 3 years of eating plates of shit everyday and spending $40K+ and yet my son still wants to come live with me — but no one cares.

    In November 2007, at a hearing in front of the friend of the court, the mother admitted to telling the child on 2 different occasions that she wished a terrorist would put a bullet in my head so i wouldn’t have to come home. For some reason, the FOC overlooked this comment and it did NOT negatively reflect on the mother. It’s more proof that they are all for the women — screw the men.

    At what point will justice be served. Why is it that I continue to be the better person, continue to tell the truth, continue to act in a fair and just way, and yet i loose every step of the way. The real looser here is our child. This woman is the poorest excuse for a mother if i’ve ever seen one. They’ve admitted, under oath, that they tried initiated a smear campaign against me by distributing these “smear packets” of information to my military organization, elected officials, and the local media. They admit it this — doesn’ it seem to be that the mother is just trying to get at me rather than look out for our child’s best intrest.

    There are 3 things that comfort me: 1)Joey knows his father never walked out on him like the mother did. The father never abandoned him. 2)She’s pushing Joey away by her actions and every day, deep inside, he hates her more and more. 3)knowing the mother (and i use the term mother, loosely) will one day stand in judgement for her horrible lies, mischaracterizations, and her horrible decisions.

    Thanks for your support!


    Joe Sr.

    Comment by SPC McNeilly, Joseph W. SR. — Fri 6th June 2008 @ 5:11 pm

  4. WELCOME TO THE ANIMAL KINGDOM.. (where men are leopards..)
    Female leopards usually give birth to their first litter at about two-and-a-half years old. Mating can take place at any time of the year. The leopard is solitary. Adult male leopards live alone for most of their adult lives. A male leopard stays together with a female leopard for only a few days during the mating period. A FEMALE LEOPARD BEARS AND RAISES CUBS ALONE. The gestation period is about 90 to 105 days.

    Comment by bull en a china shop — Fri 6th June 2008 @ 5:42 pm

  5. It seems to me only one side of the story got heard here. For the record your lawyers fired him and are still trying to get money out of him. You talk of smear packs when you have taken numerous opportunities with all forms of media to put out your version of the truth. And as for being the better person I don’t know a father who would tell their 13 year old son they can call them by their first name because they aren’t their father anymore. All because he has finally seen his father for who he really is and is disappointed in him. He is scared to be in his home because of the violence between him and his live in girlfriend(verbal as well as physical). And compounded because his son joined a church youth group and loves it so much wants to have his dad take him home early so he can attend. Yes that is being the better person. A child needs 2 parents that love them unconditionally. Not one who takes pot shots at the other by calling them incubators instead of mom.

    Comment by Renee — Mon 7th July 2008 @ 4:39 pm

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