An 18-year Navy man, his wife and their three children -- one of whom is autistic -- are being kicked out of their Forest City military housing because the sailor was stressed, threatened to take his life inside his home, and caused a 12-hour standoff with police before he was taken into custody, the man's wife said.
"I am horrified that Forest City is trying to remove my family from military housing because they did not like the police in the neighborhood when I called thinking my husband might harm himself," said Melissa Carter. "Suicide is a huge problem in the military right now, so I was shocked that my trying to get my husband help for what is quite possibly a military-related mental break is being treated so callously by private housing."
The action raises the question as to privatized military housing operator responsibilities at a time when military stress is rising and well-documented.
Chad Carter, a 36-year-old sonar technician on the destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, was admitted to Tripler Army Medical Center's psychiatric ward after the incident and will be in a civilian post-traumatic stress center for at least four weeks, his wife said.
The incident happened Aug. 14 in Radford Terrace housing. On Aug. 17, privatized military housing landlord Forest City sent the Carters a letter saying their month-to-month lease was being terminated and they had 45 days to move out.
A separate barricade situation Thursday in Moanalua Terrace military housing saw a 22-year-old Pearl Harbor sailor armed with a shotgun threaten others before surrendering to police, officials said.
Navy Cmdr. J.P. Orlich, the commander of the Pearl Harbor-based destroyer Chung-Hoon, wrote to Forest City on Aug. 22 asking that the lease "non-renewal" be reconsidered for the Carters.
"My understanding is that you did not renew his lease due to the police presence and the 'threat' he caused in the neighborhood," Orlich said. Orlich said Chad Carter is off island receiving treatment.
"This removal from housing would directly impact Mrs. Carter and their three children, ranging in age from 10 years to 18 months, who should be focused on the care of (her) husband (versus) finding a new residence," Orlich said.
One of her children is autistic, "and all these changes at once are very difficult for him to process, making a sudden move even more traumatic for my family," Melissa Carter said.
Tom Carter, vice president of military housing for Forest City, wrote back to Orlich on Monday saying that after consulting with the legal department, the lease nonrenewal would stand.
"Based on the violent nature of the offense, we must consider the safety of our remaining residents as well as the continuing liability of such behavior," Forest City's Carter said.
Greg Raap, regional vice president of Forest City Military Communities Hawaii, said in an email Monday to the Star-Advertiser: "We don't have any information to share at this time, as we're currently in discussions with the Navy to find a solution that is in the best interest of both the family involved and our neighborhood."
Forest City manages more than 6,500 Navy and Marine Corps homes in Hawaii under a public-private partnership with the military. Navy Region Hawaii said Tuesday it was "working closely" with Forest City and the family.
Melissa Carter said her family, who has lived in two Forest City-managed homes since 2009, "never caused problems in the neighborhood before." Her husband was being treated for depression, but was found fit for duty, she said.
She believes her husband's life-threatening actions were "definitely military-stress-related."
He didn't make the rank of chief this year, and he had come off a high-stress assignment on the cruiser USS Port Royal after it ran aground on a shallow shoal-water reef off Honolulu Airport in an embarrassing grounding in 2009.
"They were working ridiculously long hours with unrealistic deadlines," she said.
Carter said her husband told a medical command he was suicidal while home alone, the command called her, and she called police.
He wouldn't let police in, she said. Nearby residents were asked to voluntarily evacuate. About 30 SWAT and other officers surrounded the Carters' four-bedroom duplex on McCurry Place before forcibly entering the home.
Melissa Carter said no charges resulted, and there "was no violence, except the threat of cutting his own wrists, which he did not do."
She said there were no previous suicide attempts and no domestic violence problems, and that her husband is remorseful about what happened.
Forest City won't allow the family into any of its housing elsewhere, they are "lower priority" for Air Force housing, and it might take six months to get into Army housing, she said.
Carter said stress in the military is always there, but that it increases when demands and deployment time are high, as they are now.
"I think the problem is more that there is a stigma that if you get help, then bad things are going to happen either to your career, or as I'm finding out, to your housing situation," she said.