John Rowan, the National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, has delivered a letter to President Barack Obama as well as President-elect Donald Trump. The contents of the letter includes a plea for a pardon of tens of thousands of post-9/11 service members who were discharged for infractions related to mental health.
According to Rowan, there are around 300,000 “bad paper” discharges, and a plan for identifying those veterans will require work from both the President and President-elect. Rowan also stated in the letter that the pardon will help “save the current generation of America’s warriors” by providing them with health care and veteran’s benefits they deserve after faithfully serving our country.
Advocates for the pardon also state that many troops kicked out of the ranks for alcohol abuse, drug use, and suicide attempts should receive treatment for their problems instead of being left with insufficient benefits including no free health care.
This is not the first time veterans groups have pushed of action on the problem. In the past, these groups have pushed for congressional action but have not gotten very far. President Obama offered legislation to address the problem in 2008 as a senator, but has avoided comment in recent months as president.
The path through a presidential pardon would provide an immediate relief to these veterans, similar to the situation in 1977 when President Jimmy Carter pardoned individuals who illegally avoided the draft in an effort to unify the country.
As Rowan stated in the letter, “For many of them it is too late. Let’s ensure that their children and grandchildren do not suffer from the same fate.”