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article imageOp-Ed: Tom Cruise's lawyers out of touch with OEF/OIF Veteran Issues

By Samantha A. Torrence     Nov 11, 2013 in Lifestyle
Recently media headlines have led the public to believe that Tom Cruise compared his job to that of a military member in Afghanistan. While that quote was taken out of context, Cruise's legal team have stumbled onto a very real problem for Veterans.
This week, veterans who use social media were greeted with headlines and blurbs stating that Tom Cruise thinks his job is as hard as a soldier in Afghanistan. This of course touched a nerve and set of mostly humorous if not vulgar responses.
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The quote was, however, taken very out of context from which it originally occurred. CNN's Jake Trapper reported that the quote originated in a letter from Cruise's attorney and was then referenced by a defense attorney hired to represent a magazine being sued by Cruise for alleging that he abandoned his daughter Suri. The transcript of the conversation revealed a few things: 1) That the media will do anything for a good bit of drama and 2) That Tom Cruise's lawyers have unwittingly shed light on a subject that is just as touchy to Military Members as people claiming to know how they feel, Veterans Custody Rights.
The real quote within a letter written by Cruise's Attorney Aaron J.Moss on September 19, 2012: "But the truth, as you know, is that Mr. Cruise is a devoted father, who simply happens to be working in London on film. By your reasoning, any actor who is shooting on location in a foreign country could be charged with child abandonment, as could all of the mothers and fathers serving overseas in the military."
In a court deposition council questions Mr. Cruise about his attorney's comparison.
"Now your counsel has publicly equated your absence from Suri for these extended periods of time as being analogous to someone fighting in Afghanistan," opposing counsel asks him. "Are you aware of that?"
"I didn't hear the Afghanistan," Cruise replies. "That's what it feels like and certainly on this last movie it was brutal. it was brutal."
"Do you believe that the situations are the same?" Cruise is asked.
"Oh come on," Cruise says, "you know, we're making a movie."
It is obvious from the recorded statements that Tom Cruise does not think his job is as tough as that of a military member's, but he does say he misses his child just as much. Whether Mr. Cruise can fully understand the depths of what a Veteran feels when missing his or her family remains up in the air. I dare to guess that most would say he could not as the situation is not the same.
So TMZ and many other pop culture media websites were wrong, but only because they are rather ignorant of real problems military members face when they are overseas. They not only miss their children, but they also risk losing them, and that is the real tragedy that should be causing an uproar. So we should thank Tom Cruise because his misfortune now has some chance to shed light on injustice.
When military members are deployed they often rely on family and friends to hold down the fort until they return. Often times they leave behind homes, pets, and even children in the care of someone they love and trust. Sometimes, however, family members and even the state take advantage of the veteran's absence to spirit away their parental and custody rights. Various stories on Oprah.com and Military.com highlight the heartrending tragedies that have befallen veterans on orders over seas when ex husbands or ex-wives seek court action in their absence.
Typically courts are not allowed to take action against a veteran while they are deployed, a right protected by the implementation of the Soldiers & Sailors Civil Relief Act of 1940. But Family Court judges say they must follow what is in the best interest of the child, and have ruled that while the veteran parent is a good parent the stable home of the contesting parent is better for the child. One court went as far as to say the military life is no place for a child. The opinions of these judges have alarmed the military community and prompted one mother to take action and help change state laws to protect the custody rights of veterans. Not all states have implemented these protections.
Cruise's attorneys have invoked an emotional argument that can quite frankly come and bite them in the behind. There is good news though,Tom Cruise has a grand opportunity to put his name and weight behind advocacy of veteran's custody rights. He does not and cannot know exactly how it feels to leave your family behind knowing you may die and never return, but he does know how it feels for him to miss his daughter and that pain can be enough to sympathize.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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