A vigil is planned for honorably discharged U.S. deported Veterans who have lost their lives without receiving earned medical benefits from the U.S. government.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
July 3, 2015
Tijuana, Mexico – On Thursday, the Deported Veterans Support House (DVSH) announced that a vigil will be held at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Tijuana’s side of the border on July 4th at 3:00 p.m., according to Hector Barajas Varela, the Director for the DVSH. Barajas Varela says, that members of the DVSH, DREAMER Moms, Border Angels and the Young American DREAMers will gather on the Tijuana side of the border to place crosses and candles for all of the fallen U.S. deported Veterans who were denied access to earned medical benefits by the U.S. Veterans Affairs (VA) and as a result have passed away.
One of those deported U.S. Veterans was José Solorío, a former Marine who tried to get VA medical benefits for years, but was denied because he had been deported for a criminal offense. Solorío was given a humanitarian Visa by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to return to the U.S. to apply and receive treatment for Pulmonary Fibrosis, he passed away days later on June 18, 2015.
According to a DVSH press release, “A growing number of U.S. Veterans, including people who have recently honorably served the U.S. in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, have been deported by the federal government due to aggressive tactics that have been all together blind to service members. Many were long-time lawful permanent residents of the U.S. or came to the U.S. as children, and after serving in the military have been deported due to run-ins with the law. Often their run-ins with the law were directly related to the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder they suffer as a result of their service.
“Once deported, many of these Vets have found it impossible to get the medical attention that they need from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, despite their continuing eligibility for VA medical benefits. The vigil will include a call to action for the VA to change their policies, so that deported veterans can get access to medical care before it’s too late.
“Currently the only way to go home is in a casket, only then will we be treated as American citizens and American Veterans,” said Hector Barajas Varela, Director of the Deported Veterans Support House. “If we are going to be buried as Americans when we die, we should be allowed to live the rest of our lives with our American families.” Mr. Barajas Varela served in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne division from 1995 to 2001 and was honorably discharged. He received two Army commendation medals, a national defense ribbon, and a humanitarian award. His 2004 deportation came as a result of falling into a bad crowd during a difficult time in his life.
“America has a moral obligation to balance the scales of justice with compassion and allow those men and women who put on a uniform and served honorably a second chance to pay their debt to society and be restored to the country they were willing to die for,” said Bishop Dermot Rodgers, who serves as a Chaplain for the Deported Veterans Support House.
On April 14, 2015, former Army Veteran Juan José Montemayor passed away after a long illness without VA medical benefits and was cremated on May 17. His ashes were returned to Wisconsin in the U.S. Only upon death, a deported Veteran can return with full military honors and a head marker and burial plot is provided at a military cemetery.
On March 10, 2015, Gonzalo Chaidez, 64, a deported U.S. Army Veteran passed away in Tijuana. Chaidez suffered from Tuberculosis and as a deported U.S. Veteran, he was not allowed to use his earned benefits or seek treatment at any VA hospital. Under deportation, all Veterans are illegally stripped from their earned benefits under the last three presidential administrations, including President Obama’s administration.
In April 21, 2014, Hector Barrios, 70, a deported U.S. Army Sergeant Veteran died in Tijuana from a heart stroke and was a house resident at the DVSH too. Barrios attempted to collect earned VA benefits for years, but was unsuccessful and died in poverty because he couldn’t return to the U.S. to apply for medical care.
Other deported U.S. Veterans who have passed away include, Manuel Castano, Dardar Paye and Ramon Acedo III, 61.
For more info. about the July 4th vigil for José Solorio, contact: 626-569-5491 U.S., 664-329-1655 MX and 664-522-8745 MX
A special video tribute to the Deported Veterans Support House: https://vimeo.com/122712920