Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Fight is On: Banished Veterans are looking for a few good advocates and activists to join in...

STOP the Deportation of U.S. Veterans
Arrested, Imprisoned, Banished & Betrayed On Behalf of a Grateful Nation

Ed Note: This piece also appears in the VVAW Spring 2010 The Veteran newspaper, and Jan has submitted a National Call to Action to VVAW, for adaptation as a National VVAW Campaign.WH
Operations Coordinator

When I first heard of the deportation of veterans I said Bull Shit, they don’t deport veterans. After 62 years I should have known better. At first I became pissed off at yet another example of our government treating veterans like condoms, “use them once and throw them away”,  and when I calmed down I took action.
If you had Googled “deportation of veterans, deporting U.S. Military Veterans, banished veterans” or any combination of words to describe this national disgrace in January of 2009 you would have found very little on this injustice.  Since then we have, with the guidance and assistance of a dedicated Immigration and Criminal Defense Attorney, Heather Boxeth, who serves as Lead Council:                                                                                                                           
  • Formed a National Banished Veterans Defense Committee & Clearing House  in San Diego California.
  •  Drafted the Proposed Amendment to the Law & Legal Rational
  •  Created a Banished Veterans Brochure with an outline of issue, proposed change in law, a brief history and talking points.
  • Created a Letter for concerned citizens to send to The President of the United States and to the Director of Homeland Security requesting that they stay further deportation of former U.S. Military Veterans
  • We have given dozens of interviews to newspapers, radio and television.
  •  Spoken before The Military Order of the Purple Heart and the American Legion as well as numerous community groups in Southern California.
  • Presented the issue to the Veterans For Peace National Convention in 2009 and put on a workshop with a panel that included a Vietnam Era Veteran and member of VVAW, Louie Alvarez, who is facing deportation, a family member, Angelica Madrigal, our lead attorney, Heather Boxeth and me.
  • Traveled to Washington DC, walked the halls of Congress and lobbied members of Congress.
  • Lobbied Congressional Representatives in San Diego, Orange County & Pennsylvania.
  • Presented the issue to the 2009 National Lawyers Guild Convention which adopted a resolution to form a National Banished Veterans Committee of the NLG to advocate for a change in the laws to make all veterans “U. S. Nationals”.
  • Submitted a Resolution to the Democratic Caucus process in Colorado that is currently being shepherded through the system by Calixto Cabrera of VVAW.
  • Met with all five (5) members ‘of the San Diego Congressional Delegation and several other Districts in Southern California with members of Veterans For Peace, Chapter 91 who have adopted the issue as a main focus of concern for community outreach and congressional action.  
  • Set-up a website run by the affected veterans at
Today if you Google any combination of words to describe the deportation of veterans you will find hundreds of Newspaper articles, TV Interviews, Radio Shows and blogs on the issue and were just getting started.
Many regressive Members of Congress insist it’s an “Immigration” issue and will be dealt with when they take up Immigration Reform. Bull shit! This is a National Veterans Issue and don’t let anyone try and tell you different and if you think Healthcare was mean spirited just wait until they take on immigration reform. For me, as a Vietnam Veteran it’s simple, it’s a Semper Fi thing, “No Man Left Behind”. It is absolutely not an immigration issue as some anti-immigrant members of congressman would like to cloak it.
In short we have shined a light on an issue that our government would like kept in the dark. But a year later little has changed, the Deportation of U. S. Military Veterans continues unabated. And while I am proud of the progress that we have made with no money and very few volunteers I cannot help but  imagine the impact and progress that could have been made had Banished Veterans become a National Campaign of VVAW, adopted by and worked on by members and supporters all over the country.
It’s time to shine a brighter light on this injustice. It’s time to take this issue to all Congressional Districts in all 50 states. It’s time to take this issue to all veterans’ organizations nationally and to ask them to support a resolution to protect these veterans. I propose that VVAW adopt at its upcoming National Steering Committee Meeting the following Resolution for the memberships consideration. These men served. They were willing to die to protect and defend this nation. We can do no less than form and deploy the reactionary squad and march to the sounds of the battle in defense of these veterans.
To view the photos and read the stories of some of the Banished Veterans go to the website that they have created and run at  and if you are so moved, click on “DONATE".