A Cape Girardeau Navy Seaman charged with desertion has written to a newspaper reporter in his home town to explain why he left the Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia and returned to Cape Girardeau. Seaman Apprentice Justin Burns has told Southeast Missourian reporter Rudi Keller that the birth of his son and an illness suffered by his wife left them thousands of dollars in debt, and facing eviction from his apartment.

Burns tells Keller the Navy offered him no help. He says in his letter that one officer told him he should take his family to a homeless shelter for their food. Burns says he decided to move his family back to Cape Girardeau after that. He says his act is not a matter of desertion, but one of survival for his family.

He’s back in Norfolk and aboard his ship. Reporter Keller says the Navy is vague about what happens next for him.