LatinaLista — The plea appearing on the Latina Lista Facebook page this week was simple:
Will you PLEASE help us bring to light and expose this unjust and unfair treatment of U.S.Military Veterans.THANK YOU.
The person who posted it was Hector Lopez, a U.S. military veteran. Lopez left a link along with his request. Following it to a website, I realized that Lopez wasn't any ordinary veteran.
He actually belongs to a very special contingent of military brothers and sisters -- those who after putting their lives on the line for the United States in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf War find themselves either deported or enduring deportation proceedings.
Banished Veterans serves as a cyber-camp for these soldiers, scattered across the hemisphere, to come together and fight one last fight -- to be classified as non-citizen nationals and allowed to come home.
The definition of a non-citizen national is:
Under United States law, a noncitizen national is a person who is neither a citizen nor an alien but who owes permanent loyalty to the United States. People in this category have some but not all of the rights of citizens.
One would naturally assume that if someone paid the ultimate sacrifice, and it doesn't mean dying, but putting their lives at risk, they would be rewarded by that government.
It's only fair and just, especially after reading the different situations of each "banished veteran," where we find out that the majority of them were lead to believe that military service was their golden ticket to citizenship.
Rohan Coombs; US Marine,Persian Gulf war Veteran,Jamaica
Rohan came to America with his mom and sisters from Jamaica when he was only 9 years old. Rohan graduated from high school in New York and promptly joined the military to serve the country he loved.
Rohan joined the marines in 1988 and was deployed to Iraq a few years later. While in the military Rohan filed for his citizenship but was told "You are property of the United States Government, that makes you a citizen". No further action was taken on Rohan's part because he wasn't going to second guess his commanding officer.
It wasn't until Rohan got out of the military with an honorable discharge that things started to go downhill for him. Rohan suffers from PTSD and was unable to recognize it. He started using marijuana to ease the suffering from what he saw in Iraq during combat.
During this time his wife had passed away 4 days before Christmas. This was devastating to Rohan and like his PTSD he did not seek help with dealing with his wife's death.
He has been told he was a citizen for saying the oath to the military and for being told he was property of the U.S. and that made him a citizen. Now the judge in his case is telling him he is not a citizen and that he should be deported back to a country he hasn't been to in over 30 years.
This is but one story among many who received assurances from commanding officers that they were citizens by virtue of their service. Some soldiers went on to receive the Medal of Honor or were recognized in some way by their commanding officers and they all were granted honorable discharges.
Yet, some returned home to find deportation letters waiting for them next to the Welcome Home banners. Other veterans, because of committing an offense, found themselves on ICE's deportation list.
At this stage, these Banished Veterans are not asking for citizenship but they do want the U.S. government to acknowledge their service and the negative ramifications of serving in the military that has some of these soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that resulted in illicit activity because their conditions went untreated.
The Banished Veterans have a very strong allegiance to the United States and it's easy to see after reading their site's content that their deportations and current treatment by the U.S. government is more agonizing than walking onto a battlefield.
The Banished Veterans group is working with the National Lawyers Guild in trying to get a special resolution passed:
Resolution on amending the United States Code to clearly state that US military servicemembers are noncitizen nationals and petition the Department of Homeland Security to stay their removal from the United States of America.
None of these soldiers committed hard crimes but they are being held accountable for situations that either they had no control over (like coming illegally into the US as children with their parents) -- or because the U.S. government is unwilling to be accountable for making false promises in return for warm bodies that will follow orders.
The Banished Veterans have a fight on their hands and in true soldier style, they're not backing down.
They ask that people contact their congressmen on their behalf to stop this injustice before another soldier returns from war only to have to fight another battle.