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.
“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.