A Navy veteran with PTSD told Judge Larry Bourgeois on Wednesday that he's tried to get help for a drinking problem, but Veterans Affairs has a long waiting list.
Raymond Gene Rodgers Jr., a 39-year-old who served on a flight crew in the Middle East, said he wanted to go to the Homes of Grace, an alcohol-rehabilitation program that emphasizes spirituality.
"It's too late for the Homes of Grace," Judge Bourgeois told Rodgers, who pleaded guilty to two felony DUIs in Long Beach, one on his birthday in October 2017 and another less than five months later.
His blood-alcohol level for the birthday arrest, taken from a blood sample, was .38 — enough to kill a man.
Admittedly, he couldn't walk when police pulled him over after an accident. He said that he was headed to the store for more alcohol after drinking one of those bottles of Crown Royal that comes in a purple bag and an unknown quantity of beer.
Exhibiting the classic alcoholic symptom of denial, Rodgers told the judge only, "I had had a little too much to drink."
Bourgeois fired back: "A little? You were almost dead!"
Rodgers also said he "scraped" another vehicle. Bourgeois corrected him again: "So, you had a wreck?" Rodgers admitted that he did.
He was also headed to the store for more alcohol the second time he was arrested with a .2 blood-alcohol level.
He's faced numerous other alcohol-related charges in Biloxi and Gulfport. He also has been convicted twice of DUI in Little Rock, Arkansas
Bourgeois accepted the recommendation of District Attorney Joel Smith's office and sentenced Rodgers to 10 years in prison, where he was ordered to participate in Soldier On, a relatively new faith-based program for veterans behind bars.
As the veteran left the courtroom in shackles, Bourgeois told him, not for the first time, "Mr. Rodgers, stay away from alcohol!"
Rodgers said: "You won't ever see me again. I'm done."