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Saved My Life and My Retirement – Senior Master Sergeant (Retired)

I was fortunate to achieve the rank of Chief Master Sergeant (E-9) in the United States Air Force and served for over 28 years. However, I was a Chief with a secret and led a double life. While serving on active duty, I became addicted to crack cocaine and became an alcoholic while trying to use liquor to disguise my cocaine addiction. In September of 2013, my Commander informed me he was removing me from my primary duties and relocating me to an office about 12 feet from his until we await the results of my court-martial. My first move was to visit an off-base lawyer. During my visit, he quoted me what came close to a $15K fee. I said thank you Sir, departed his office, visited my drug spot and got high. I visited my ADC that next morning and was assigned Captain Patrick Hughes.
We did not get off to a collaborative start because I consistently kept lying to him to downplay my usage and cover up my double life. Prior to my court-martial, Captain Hughes and I had numerous legal discussions, but after multiple drug test failures from Sept 2013 through Jan 2014, our discussions turned more towards my life, my poor decisions, my family and trying to get to the bottom of my consistent usage. He turned into a gifted listener, great friend and someone I slowly started opening up to about the destructive life I created as a result of drinking and drugging. Our conversations led to me finally admitting that I had a problem and needed help.
As a result of 7 drug test failures, I was facing 1 year in jail, reduction from E-9 to E-1, forfeiture of pay and allowances, hard labor and a dishonorable discharge. During the trial, it took about 30 minutes for me to realize that my lawyer is exceptionally organized, an exceptional communicator and has a way of telling the truth but explaining the “Whys” and connecting with people. I honestly do not remember what he said during his closing argument, I only remember how it made me feel and how the jurors and the entire courtroom received his powerful message. I was only reduced to E-6, served 3 months in a military Brig and 4 months hard labor, and more importantly, I separated with an Honorable Discharge and kept my retirement. Additionally, I was re-promoted to the rank of E-8, which would have never happened without Captain Hughes’ commitment to turning my life around and his incredible courtroom savvy. I honestly feel I did not deserve my positive outcome, but I feel God brought Captain Hughes in my life to change me, so I can help change others through my story. I am currently working on the same base that prosecuted me, been sober since 13 Jan 2014, and I tell my story to current alcoholics and addicts every Wednesday at my former outpatient program.

My first impression of Captain Hughes is the exact same impression I have of him right now. He is a person who never meets a stranger, passionate about people, an awesome sense of humor which is needed during a life changing experience, and someone that figured out how to get 64 hours of work completed in a 24 hour day. He was a tireless worker and gifted communicator, who could engage in conversation and connect with a destitute person on the street, or a five-star General. More importantly, his caring conversations were aligned with his actions. He forgave me, provided me legal counsel and guided me through the worst time of my life, to include when my mother died while I was in jail. He simply inspired me to clean my life up and is an incredible lawyer. I ran into a juror who sat on my trial at a military function for my niece. He told me “Chief, you got a favorable outcome because you were truthful and YOUR LAWYER ABSOLUTELY CRUSHED THE PROSECUTION!” I am willing to talk to potential clients of Patrick’s, about his character and skill, he has my number.

– Posted by The Former Chief J. on August 22, 2017