US Veterans Banished, Will Spend Christmas Alone

Author: Tim Paynter
Published: December 09, 2012 at 7:21 am

As millions of Americans spend the holiday with their families, up to three thousand American Veterans will spend it alone in a foreign land. I am not referring to soldiers on duty in a remote outpost. Instead, the reference is to immigrant soldiers who fought for our country and who have been deported as personas-non-grata, some of them suffering life-long injuries. There are deported soldiers who fought in Viet Nam, Desert Storm, Korea, and all of the major conflicts.  Fabian Reolledo (right) is one of those unfortunates.

The Mexican youth who came to the U.S. at age 13, a Dream Student, found himself an Army Paratrooper at age 23. Some say you have to be crazy to jump out of a perfectly operating aircraft, so the army prefers paratroopers to volunteer. They found a ready and willing volunteer in Reolledo.

The Recruiter promised Reolledo he would convert his status from permanent resident to U.S. citizen as soon as he took the oath to serve and protect our nation. It is a common promise made to immigrant soldiers who make up 10% of our military.  It is a promise that is always broken. What recruiters don't tell immigrant youth is the Oath to protect this great nation with one's life is not the same as the oath one takes as a citizen.  That is what the government says, anyway.  In retrospect, with a 4.3 grade point average, the high school graduate would have done better pursuing non-military options. 

As a paratrooper, Reolledo found, Jumping out of airplanes is dangerous business.  The youth dislocated his hip with a jump into the Normandy Drop Zone. Shortly After recovery, he suffered a second injury to his back in Celerno’s Drop Zone.

If paratrooper duty was dangerous, Reolledo was about to step the risk level up a major notch.  He next underwent live ammunition intensive training, and training in mine sweeping, whereupon he suffered a third, more serious injury when a truck loaded with live rounds flipped.   In duty to God and country, Reolledo injured his neck, an injury he battles to this day.

Latino youths from Mexico are tough as they come. Reolledo recovered again, then in March 1999 was deployed to campdondsteel in Kosovo. It was ugly. Our military was trying to curb genocide from the Sloboden Milosevic's regime. The year 1999 saw over 230,000 civilians killed and 3,000,000 people displaced. 

After returning to the U.S., Reolledo sought psychological help for what he saw and did in the name of freedom. He suffers nightmares today.

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Article Author: Tim Paynter

Tim Paynter is an attorney and human rights activist based in Denver, Colorado. He is a tireless fighter for abused women, children at risk, those ravaged by poverty, and those fighting for dignity in the United States.

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