A retired Army colonel recently told us that there are three things that will change a person’s soul: war, prison, and the desert. These are all things that Michael has experienced in the past five years. As for the state of Michael’s soul we would say emphatically that it is at peace. In fact that is what Michael told the reviewers at his first Parole Hearing at the US Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) in Leavenworth on October 22nd. Without qualification he has no bitterness or enmity towards anyone for the unimaginable path he has traveled. Instead he continues to read, study, and improve himself as he looks forward to a future beyond prison walls. The USDB Board Michael met with will make a recommendation to the full Army Clemency and Parole Board in Washington DC. Hopefully, we will be scheduled to represent Michael before the full Parole Board some time in December. We will know two weeks after the full Board Hearing as to whether Michael will receive Parole.
The holidays are fast approaching. For most of us that means the hustle and bustle of busy malls, Christmas music, and time with family and friends. But for those like Michael who ‘celebrate’ the holidays behind iron bars there is a dark and heavy cloud of loneliness that is difficult to fathom. Amid the smiles and laughter inside the packed visitation room at Leavenworth there remains an unspoken sadness; the cruel knowledge that when the clock strikes 4pm families will exit out one door into the fresh air of freedom and the inmates will exit out another door that takes them back to an unnatural place, devoid of so much of what we consider human. One door represents life, the other door represents death.
Like life and death, grief and gratitude are blood brothers. One cannot have one without the other. It is almost always the experience of grieving what has been lost that makes us aware of how much we have to be grateful for. So on this coming Thanksgiving day, as our family sits between those two doors in the crowded visitation room at Leavenworth, our hearts will be filled with gratitude for the blessing of sharing time with those we love most on this earth. We will know that our time is short, but it is that very knowledge that will help us appreciate it even more.
Our gratitude extends to all of you who have supported our son and our family on this journey. May you each have a wonderful Thanksgiving that is filled with a grateful heart and time spent with those you love.
Peace be with you all,
Scott & Vicki Behenna
P.S. Please consider sending Michael a card, a letter, or even a money order (for snacks and phone calls) during this upcoming holiday season. We promise you it will make Michael’s day! Michael’s address is:
Michael Behenna 87503
1300 N. Warehouse Road
Ft. Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304