Longview Texas – On December 24th, 2015, KLTV Reporter Kim Leoffler interviewed Deserea Hopkins for a story entitled “East Texas Veteran Has Christmas With Kids After Years Apart.” After the story aired, we began getting a lot of emails and Facebook messages about her story.(Special thanks to Dennis Youngblood for his initial posting in OIF/OEF Vets). In the interview she says she had been on two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and that she had to “Kick down doors.” She also said they had to do all the dirty work, make arrests, and that the Military was her life.
She also, told the reporter that this would be her first Christmas with her three-year old, since joining the Army. According to the article and video on KLTV:
Deserea Hopkins was a police officer in the Army and got back to Texas about a year ago, but not in time for Christmas with her kids. During her military career, Hopkins was stationed in the United States a few times, including Fort Sill in Oklahoma, Fort Leonard in Missouri, and Fort Lee in Virginia; however, she said that she was still separated from her family during the holidays when she was back in the U.S.
“I’ve been on two deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. We actually had to go and kick down doors do all the dirty work. Go make arrests. I really just missed my family, mainly,” Hopkins said.
“The military was my life; that’s all I know, but I’m more than happy to be a single mom to my kids,” she added.
Hopkins’ kids stayed with her grandparents while she was away. This will be her first Christmas with her three-year-old son, Paiden. But, her six-year-old daughter Precious remembers the Christmases without her mom.
“It’s sad ’cause I love my mom so much,” she said.
“She’s excited; she’s like ‘Mom are you gonna go?’ and I’m like ‘No, I’m here,’” Hopkins said.
But Precious knew what her mom was doing.
“She told me when she was a soldier and would protect everybody,” Precious said.
And it looks like this Christmas is going to be a good one, thanks to some friends who Hopkins said gave them these gifts.
“I enjoy helping people and this is the reason why I help people…because of people like this,” she said.
“I do want to go back. I do. But I want to give my kids time to bond and to grow with me and let them know that their mom is still here. I just have an obligation to our country,” she added.
So this year they are going to cherish their memories finally together rather than apart.
Here is the video interview: (Note: sometimes once we post an article like this, the news agency may remove the video, so this link may not work)
NOTE THE VIDEO WAS REMOVED FROM THE KLTV SITE AFTER POSTING.
After this story was aired, lots of Vets and Military members began calling this story into question. They began posting comments on the KLTV FB page and the article itself about her three years away, two deployments, and her SSG rank. We began looking into her background, as we awaited her Military records. Her story has thrown up a lot of red flags and friends of hers were also calling her out in the comments and messages.
As we awaited a response on her Military records, we found some interesting things in her background. During the times she was supposedly deployed, she was arrested on multiple charges of fraud.
She was arrested and charged with the following:
- 6223M THEFT STOLEN PROP>=$20<$500 BY CHECK
- 6526M BAIL JUMPING AND FAIL TO APPEAR
- 25687 THEFT STOLEN PROP>=$20<$500 BY CHECK
- 25686 THEFT STOLEN PROP>=$20<$500 BY CHECK
- 2013-0059 THEFT STOLEN PROP>=$50<$500 01/29/2013
Disposition (Judicial Officer: Simpson, Rebecca)
1. THEFT STOLEN PROP>=$50<$500Guilty
Sentence (Judicial Officer: Simpson, Rebecca)
1. THEFT STOLEN PROP>=$50<$500
Confinement to Commence 01/29/2013 30 Days , County Jail, Gregg County Sheriff’s Office Jail
- 2013-0059 THEFT STOLEN PROP>=$50<$500 10/25/2012
Deserea claimed she was serving and deployed at this time. She was serving, but she wasn’t serving her country. According to official US Army records, Deserea did join the Army in October of 2011 and went to Basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. For starters, Fort Sill isn’t the base for Military Police OSUT, it’s Fort Leonard wood, Missouri. She did ship to basic, but according to the US Army she was discharged on Entry Level Performance two months later in December of 2011. She served a total of two months. She didn’t even completing Basic Training and didn’t earn any awards, not even the Army Service Ribbon, which you get for completing Basic.
Official US Army Response:
Home of Record: Mount Pleasant, Texas.
Service: October-December 2011.
Entry level discharge at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
No MOS and no awards.
After KLTV began getting emails and comments about her story, they posted the following to the bottom of the story:
“Editors note: The story was edited to expand on Hopkins’ military career; she was not deployed her entire career. ”
Her entire career, which consisted of a total of two months in 2011.
Deserea, owes the local Texas community and the Veterans an apology for claiming to have made a sacrifice to her country and her family, that she never made. So many Veterans have spent countless Christmases, Birthdays, and other holidays away from their family. Some even missing the birth of their children. For her to have claimed to have made this sacrifice in an official interview is a slap in the face to those who have actually made this sacrifice. Some have made this sacrifice countless times over the past 15 years, actually being away from their families and loved ones on multiple deployments.
I only hope she straightens out her life, foremost stops lying to her children, and strives to make a better life for them.
KLTV finally posted a response about the story, you can view it here : Military Records Dispute East Texans Claims
We also reached out to Stoney, the guy that donated the gifts to Deserea. He confirms that he donated the gifts to her based one her claims of being a Veteran who had been deployed. He posted a response to his page “Daddy Diaries”, he blamed himself. We assured him it wasn’t his fault, and thanked him for trying to help our Veterans.
You can see the full thread here: Stolen Valor Thread.
Deserea did receive these gifts under false pretenses, unfortunately she didn’t break the Federal Stolen Valor law as she never claimed any of the awards covered under the act. We will be looking into Texas statutes to see if she broke any State laws.