Advocacy Group Calls On Obama To Pardon Post-9/11 Vets With ‘Bad-Paper’ Discharges

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In this June 9, 2014 file photo is a sculpture portraying a wounded soldier being helped on the grounds of the Minneapolis VA Hospital.
AP Photo/Jim Mone

The veteran service organization, Vietnam Veterans of America, penned an open letter to President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump, calling on the former to pardon all post-9/11 veterans who were discharged under less-than-honorable conditions without the due process of a court-martial.


Written by John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America, it reads, “Over the last 15 years of continuous warfare, our government has failed to respond appropriately to multiple, comprehensive reports of veterans being inappropriately discharged from the military.”

It goes on to say that because of the underdiagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other service-connected illnesses and injuries, thousands of veterans have been unjustly discharged from the military and denied veterans’ benefits as a result.

Related: Advocacy Group Calls On Obama To Pardon Post-9/11 Vets With ‘Bad-Paper’ Discharges »

“The sole purpose of VVA existing is to ensure that no generation of veterans ever has to face the horrors that Vietnam veterans did when they returned home from overseas in the 60s and 70s,” VVA assistant director for policy and government affairs Kristofer Goldsmith told Task & Purpose.

While post-9/11 veterans have fared better than their Vietnam counterparts, Goldsmith continued, Vietnam Veterans of America found that the rate of veterans denied honorable discharges and left without benefits has increased.

“VVA's core mission, its founding principle, of ‘Never again will one generation of veterans leave behind another’ would not be fulfilled if VVA wasn't fighting for every veteran of the post-9/11 generation,” Goldsmith added.

For the Trump administration, the letter calls the president-elect support the initiative and make this pardoning program’s success a top-priority for his transition team.

Read the letter in full below.

Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.

The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.

During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.

"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."

"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."

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Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.

Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.

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(Associated Press photo)

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.

Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."

"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.

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U.S. Army Rangers resting in the vicinity of Pointe du Hoc, which they assaulted in support of "Omaha" Beach landings on "D-Day," June 6, 1944. (Public domain)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

For one veteran who fought through the crossfires of German heavy machine guns in the D-Day landings, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of his service and that of his World War II comrades would be "quite meaningful."

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An airman at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was arrested and charged with murder on Sunday after a shooting at a Raleigh night club that killed a 21-year-old man, the Air Force and the Raleigh Police Department said.

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