CARTing ‘Up And Out’ And Captain Kevin

CARTing ‘Up And Out’ And Captain Kevin
By Monette Benoit

~~ Originally published in my column “Beyond The Comfort Zone” within NCRA’s Journal of Court Reporting, JCR
By Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved

Now and then we’re granted special events we remember for a long, long time. Some can be confidential.

The jobs I’m writing about here were not your typical day at the office.

Originally I wanted special CART (communication access realtime translation, instant voice to text) moments to remain private.

Then my life shifted; it was altered.

Two weeks after the 2000 San Diego installation of NCRA, National Court Reporters Association, president Mike Brentano, my world changed forever.

I received the call that no one wants.

My terminally ill youngest (he hated the word ‘baby’) brother died August 5th, 2000.

Still serving in Army Reserves, Captain Kevin was privately diagnosed with hepatitis C, HCV, December 23, 1997.

After his diagnosis, Kevin learned that in 1976 he was infected during experiment vaccinations in the military.  Documented.  Proven.  A.  Fact.

A hospital ward was cleared for the arrival of his troop – before they arrived.  Documented.  Proven. A.  Fact.

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly passionately spent day and night researching, assisting veterans, their families and medical researchers. He died suddenly, tragically alone.

Many court reporters knew of my brother’s illness and his work.

At my request, Kevin also helped veterans, family members, deaf, hard-of-hearing individuals and court reporters (and members of their families) each diagnosed with HCV.

Kevin encouraged everyone, researched information specific for each person, so they could move forward with hope and facts.

Kevin also worked to develop the first Hepatitis C Support Forums.

Captain Kevin documented and proved that the HCV, hep C, virus and other viruses are shared by pneumatic guns, which routinely shared the same needles with multiple soldiers and individuals. Depression is a side of effect of Hep C, and as many know, depression is an often misunderstood illness.

Kevin designed a website that he and LeighAnn Vogel built to assist veterans, families, professionals and children of diagnosed individuals. Some of Kevin’s work may be accessed now 

The web site Kevin and LeighAnn built was the first private web site to be attached by the VA, Veterans Administration, sharing information Kevin gathered to specifically veterans and their families.

The afternoon of his death, prior to the call, my family gathered with my dad to help Dad’s recovery from cancer surgery. We did not then know that Dad, served in the Army, would be diagnosed with hepatitis C, also.

Due to dad’s surgery and recuperation, I flew alone to Kevin’s funeral.

August 10th, 2000, in Calverton Cemetery, a military graveyard, I waited in the noon sun for his casket to be delivered to the empty hole in the ground – I learned after standing ‘there’ that the gravediggers ‘had gone’ to lunch.

I stared at the lime green chalk with a number marked on a cement wall inside the ‘hole’ – the number was the cemetery plot marker before his casket arrived in a dark purple 18-wheeler.

I humbly share that it was the comfort of mentors, court reporters, National Court Reporters Association staff, and kind strangers who strengthened me.

I canceled my JCR, Journal of Court Reporting, “Beyond The Comfort Zone” column from one airport, stood on long lines alone.

Stunned, I phoned a few friends as I waited to board planes.

My court reporting friends insisted I go.  They said:  You. Must. Go. You. Must. Witness.  You know how to listen. Go. Listen. As you promised Kevin.

Yes, we court reporters have mastered listening, watching.  Decades.  Centuries we have used our well-honed listening skills to accurately document.

When I did not check in with one reporter, the court reporter was going to phone another reporter “living near the cemetery to go out there and find you. Thank God you phoned… You and I both know the reporter would have found you.  We find necessary details.  You know…”  (One of the few giggles I had for the ‘burial’ was that moment. Yes, court reporters are focused.)

I found the words and courage from others to buck-me-up for what I saw, heard, viewed…

They helped me to go, stand tall, listen, fly home, then find sense of my world – especially when I learned the wrong rank had been placed on his tombstone by his grieving widow – an Army reservist veteran RN, a nurse who had filed for divorce.  Divorce hearing was the day Kevin died, I am told.  Ouch.

Even court reporters – and I – were stunned by ‘that’.  Yes, I documented.  Yes, I have pictures.  Yes, the tombstone was fixed to his correct rank: Captain.  Yes, at taxpayers’ expense.

When none of Kevin’s research was returned to the Hep C community – and when the community offered to buy “only computer address work” for his work, research, I placed all the data (learned that word from Kevin) on the floor, like he had done one day.

I began to move pieces of paper along the floor. Same as Kevin when he saw his military records had been ‘doctored’ from the copy he was mailed after his HCV diagnosis and the medical military records he was given years before.  Another. Fact.

When my grieving parents were hurt by other moments, I got up off that floor – like Kevin did.  And I went to work. In short, I ‘got’ busy.  As I had promised Kevin.  “If you can, will you?”  His exact words.  Often.

As I discovered shocking details I left the court reporting field.  I focused, like Kevin did.  And I was helped by people who wanted their messages, facts to be public – yes, as Kevin was helped.

And each year I began to write updates on the day Kevin died – sharing more, more, and more – because people would not return his work. My focus was to ensure accurate facts were facts.  Others?  Not so much.  Their ‘sentences’ – they wanted –  lies.  I focused on truth.

I leaned into the wind.

I remembered the promises to Kevin.

Due to the facts that were delivered to me, in the inaccurate manner they were,I made a decision that I never would have made without such c-r-a-p.

I focused on truth.  I was able to document facts, truth.  And my life shifted in directions I never saw possible prior to August 5, 2000.

During the quiet time, I experienced many incidents that spurred me to write this article.

I am honoring those moments. And now I have a special message to share.

Traditionally, my CART, communication access real-time translation (instant voice-to-text display on a computer) request assists deaf, hard-of-hearing, people learning English, etc.

But I received a unique request many moons ago.

They wanted CART and a verbatim disk immediately thereafter. Fine.

The consumer was not deaf or hearing challenged. Fine.

I was requested because “sometimes high energy field surges blow out electricity recording the event.”

Excuse me?

I needed more information.

The person scheduling the event was a medium, a clairvoyant.

The client wanted to speak to a dead relative. (Yes, like you, I paused a little there too.)

They requested CART captioning for an instant verbatim text record.

Could I write on battery to prevent electrical blips?

In court I wrote hearings, motions. Was the plaintiff really injured?

I wrote jury trials.

Was the defendant, alleged criminal, in fact, innocent?

I know they are innocent until proven guilty, but officers of the court (almost always) are entitled to information that the jury often may not receive.

We know information is almost always retained by prosecutors, police, judges – details that are not delivered.

I still remember the divorce law firm that nailed everything down – stapler, sofa cushions, books, etc.

I felt ‘safer’ in criminal court than the one and only divorce deposition I ever reported.  Nope.  I was scared that entire deposition as emotions – were – extreme.

I did not judge others when my skills were used in depositions, hearings, court, more… Was this different?

I thought about seven years of CART captioning deaf masses, PTA/school meetings, religious events, university Latin classes, the McGruff Dog (he had paw surgery, so he could sign to the deaf children), country dancing lessons, funerals, conventions, where I felt privileged to share CART captioning. They required instant verbatim text delivery.

I thought about friends who would scream if they knew.

I envisioned my mom smiling, praying; my Jesuit-schooled father sighing, glancing skyward.

With an open mind, lots of prayer, I accepted.

I entered terms in my job dictionary to include psychics, mediums, shamans, metaphysical, tarot, clairvoyants, mystics and yes, I entered the term: ghostbusters.

I realtimed with the screen turned down, charged batteries to avoid electrical problems.

The ‘reading’ began with prayer, moved quickly into personal information.

Pets, nicknames, childhood memories, favorite foods were shared before communication began.

I remember holding my breath – concerned sudden inhales could invade their privacy.

I ended with wonder (and some shock).

Everyone was so thankful I shared my CART captioning skills. I’d been part of something very personal.

I received other calls.

Each different; each adhered to a Code of Ethics. And, yes, I continued to pray and attend church.

As a result of that work, I received a CART captioning request for a telephonic medical intuitive.

Their appointment had been scheduled two years earlier. This was a medical doctor with a PhD. using psychic abilities to ‘read’ problems from the past and future for someone’s heath.

Again, I charged batteries, globaled, moved forward.

Later, I CARTed captioned a homicide detective sharing a file report.

I am convinced that when someone asks for any verbatim record, a court reporter is the necessary professional.

I tease that as an experienced court reporter I can write anything spoken and/or mumbled.

CART captioners can bring comfort to people who are grieving. When CARTing funerals for who are hard-of-hearing and/or deaf children and adults, I experienced peace while sharing so others could participate.

We can assist with closure involving people close to the center.

I feel privileged to sit at the edge of the circle, to hear what I did.

Faith is personal.

Messages are private.

My brother died young and sadly, much too fast.

He is no longer here to share laughter, to guide me with his courage, wisdom, friendship, and wicked sense of humor with his ‘only’ sister.

Kevin will never send a funny or informative email I could keep or could choose to share with friend, court reporters, and mentors.

I draw comfort from my quiet moments, from those with insights, loving guidance.

We can instantly realtime anything… verbal, spiritual and, now I know, even spirits.

I’m grateful for spiritual moments, for hearing ‘Up and Out’ utilizing CART captioning with an open mind and an open heart.

My work is still private.

My life is forever changed due to my CART captioning skills, the death of my brother, and the possibilities I want to share with each of you.

Further information about Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly is included

Why?  I gave him my word.

               About Monette Benoit, B. B.A., Paralegal, CCR, CRI, CPE, CART Captioner, Instructor, Public Speaker, Consultant, Columnist: Since 1990, Monette is the multiple-title author of books & Purple Books test prep. Co-author, Emmett Donnelly, earned his B.S. in English; languages, Latin, Greek, German; sciences; and his M.Ed.- working with SATs and ACTs for decades.

Monette, an experienced 35+ year court reporter, has taught multiple theories, all academics, speed classes, and 225-homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and community college. Daughter of educators, Monette understands challenges in our multi-faceted, growing industry.

In 1993, she CART captioned for a Deaf mass, San Antonio, Texas. Wonderful opportunities presented from Big D, Little D, Oral Deaf, HOH – special moments.

Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, students, instructors. She’s worked to create new court reporting programs, worked with federal grants, assisted instructors in developing curriculum for in-class and online students. Years ago, she was named the Court Reporting Whisperer by court reporting students and reporters.

Her confidential tutoring, coaching, has assisted thousands to advance with specific, custom-designed guidance!

Monette’s Musings is an informative, motivational blog for busy individuals seeking to create success –and– to enjoy this special path. Monette’s goal IS your success.

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