Monday, June 04, 2007

Things That Make Me Go Hmmmmm

I found this article at the VFW website this morning.

I am not sure how to feel about it, but would love to hear from service members past or present in the comments.

VFW to Corps: Don’t Stifle Freedom of Speech

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2007--The national commander of America’s oldest and largest organization of combat veterans is taking issue with an apparent attempt by the U.S. Marine Corps to bring administrative actions against three former Marines for their anti-war positions.

“This is about First Amendment rights and whether the military can discipline former servicemen who are in the inactive reserves,” said Gary Kurpius, who leads the 2.4 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries.

According to press reports, two former Marines wore their unmarked desert fatigues on a mock combat patrol in Washington in March to protest the fourth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. One of them was also cited for making a disrespectful comment to a military officer investigating the incident. A third Marine was accused of making disparaging remarks about the president.

Though all three had been honorably discharged following combat tours in Iraq, the Marine Corps is contending that they still fall under military service regulations as members of the Individual Ready Reserve, which is an emergency manpower pool of former active-duty servicemen and women who are in an unpaid, non-drill status. An implied threat by the Marine Corps to lower their discharge ratings from honorable to general could negatively impact educational and other benefits they are eligible to receive from the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as future employment opportunities that require security clearances.

“We all know that people give up some individual rights when they join the military,” said Kurpius, a Vietnam veteran from Anchorage, Alaska, “but these Marines went to war, did their duty, and were honorably discharged from the active roles. I may disagree with their message, but I will always defend their right to say it,” he said.

“Trying to hush up and punish fellow Americans for exercising the same democratic right we’re trying to instill in Iraq is not what we’re all about,” he said. “Someone in the Marine Corps needs to exercise a little common sense and put an end to this matter before it turns into a circus.”


At 6/04/2007, Anonymous LL said...

I'm SO glad I'm not the only one who feels like this!! I really thought I was the lone military supporter who held this position and I've gotten some grief from a Marine friend over it. Thank you for posting that article.

At 6/04/2007, Blogger ragingmom said...

My only problem with the deal is that they should NOT have worn the uniform. The US Code is very specific on when a former member can wear it.

Plus lately, anything that comes out of Gary Kurpius' mouth makes me want to do the opposite.


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