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Thank You for Your Service: Now Get Lost
By Sally-Alice Thompson
A young man who has lived throughout his childhood in the US and has no memory of life in any other country, is approached by a Marine recruiter. He is given to understand that if he signs up for military service, he will become a real American. Wishing to leave behind the stigma of being undocumented, he signs on the dotted line, takes an oath to protect the Constitution, and after a few months training, is deployed to Afghanistan. He takes some shrapnel when a bomb explodes near his encampment. His tour of duty over, he returns home and attempts to resume civilian life, fighting the demons of PTSD. He marries and fathers a son. After an evening of drinking, he becomes embroiled in a fight. Falling back on his violence training in the military, he physically attacks his opponent. The police arrive, he's taken into custody and charged with assault and battery. Given ten minutes with a public defender, he is found to be guilty. ICE somehow hears of his conviction, comes and takes him into custody. He is shocked and profoundly disappointed when he hears that NO, he is not a citizen, and NO, his military combat service and his purple heart do not make him a US citizen. Leaving his weeping wife standing on the floor of the courtroom, he is escorted, in shackles, to the airport, to be sent to the country of his birth.
Variations of the above scenario have actually happened, over, and over. Undocumented young people are recruited (coerced?) into fighting in our War on Terror, place their bodies in harm's way, spending valuable years of their young lives, and risking even the end of life. Then, if they make a poor choice, as many young people do, they are thanked for their service by deportation. Former American military service members are languishing in many countries, where they may not have any family or other connections. A large number of them are in Central America and Mexico.
Sally-Alice Thompson and her husband Don Thompson (deceased) founded the Veterans for Peace Chapter 63 in Albuquerque, NM. Sally-Alice is a WWII Navy veteran. She and Don are long-time activists fighting for peace and justice. Sally remains active and committed at age 95.