City Matters: War vet needs help this Christmas
Former Navy petty officer Christopher Viorritto with his wife, Ayako, and their daughter, Nanami, age 2. (MARK HAYWARD / UNION LEADER)
The Navy insists Viorritto and another 2,945 sailors discharged two years ago were not jettisoned for cost-cutting reasons; it just had too many people of Viorritto's rank working in certain job classifications.
People like Viorritto are really just like the guy who works a machine or a cashier at the local supermarket. Work as hard as you can for as long as we want, then it's a handshake, a check and transition assistance.
There, he supervised sailors who calibrated test equipment used to repair avionics gear, he said. He trained lower ranks and managed personnel issues such as vacations and sick days. He wrote PowerPoint lectures about topics such as operational risk management.
"I thought, 'This can't be happening,'" said Viorritto, who is 35. "I kept up with my training, put my focus on doing the best job I could."
His mother, Barbara "Bobbi" Viorritto, is herself a Navy veteran. She said the service targeted the middle ranks — noncommissioned officers with costly families and future retirements — and left the inexpensive, young recruits.
Three years ago, the Navy looked at its force, and it found that it had too many people with mid-level ranks — E-4 through E-7 — in certain job classifications. So in order to make sure that the younger recruits had a career path, it discharged the higher ranks.
Servello said the Navy took numerous criteria into account, but family status, age and retirement did not come into play.
The family has been on food stamps — $632 a month — but the benefits expire this year, and Viorritto is unsure whether they will be renewed.
Last month, the Army Times and Air Force Times reported on congressional hearings where generals predicted significant cutbacks in uniformed troops. In both the Army and Air Force, discharges could run into the tens of thousands.
Viorritto said he misses the structure of Navy life. He still talks about his Navy days with fondness and still uses the pronoun "we" when speaking about the Navy.
He is taking classes in electrical technology at Manchester Community College. He hopes to graduate in about 1 1/2 years and thinks he could get a job in the wireless industry. Until then, he and his family will just skimp and hang on.
The generosity of Santa Fund donors makes it possible for the holidays to still be a joyful time. The Santa Fund makes food, clothing and gifts available during the holiday season, so ﬁnancially stressed families can put their resources toward paying bills for basic needs.
Mark Hayward's City Matters runs Thursdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader and UnionLeader.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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