A Veteran Ministry Collaboration with Border Ministry
by the Rev. Laura Adelia, Missioner, Diocesan Veteran & Military Ministry
Parishes & communities all over the Arizona diocese honored & celebrated Veteran’s Day last week with ceremonies, guest preachers & speakers, special events, and so on.
But did you know that thousands of US veterans have been deported? Yes, deported!
How could such a thing happen? Many people enlist in the military as a pathway to becoming a US citizen. They do their service, serving honorably, many deploying & serving in combat. When their term of service is finished & they are discharged, they discover that their immigration & citizenship paperwork had not been properly processed properly by their chain of command, or some other bureaucratic mess up happened.
Unfortunately for them, they find out the hard way that they are not US citizens, are here in the US illegally, and then are deported.
If you can believe it, there are over 45,000 US veterans who have been deported! And this is only the deported vets we know about, there are probably thousands more. There are currently deported veterans in Mexico, Central America, South America, Africa, India, & many other countries around the globe.
And for veterans that are deported, they are unable to receive ANY of their veteran benefits, no medical, no mental health help, no pension or disability compensation from the VA (Veterans Affairs), no GI Bill or veteran educational benefits…no nothing.
Fortunately, there are non-profits, other organizations & many people trying to help deported veterans get back to the US, gain their US citizenship, and get their veteran benefits. Unfortunately, the process is long and very slow & can take years. For example, it took one vet 12 years to get back to the US!
Rev. David Chavez, Canon for Border Ministry has been in preliminary collaborative conversations with us (the Veteran Ministry Team of the Arizona Diocese) & people in the San Diego Episcopal Diocese who are very active in helping deported veterans get back to the US, & get their VA benefits & US citizenship.
Stay tuned for more information as things develop on this very important issue!
Resources for more information:
- Phoenix Veteran Helps Bring Deported Veterans Home, by Javier Arce, Arizona Republic, Nov. 10, 2023
- PBS series After Action, episode 3, “Pledge of Allegiance“. USAF veteran Stacy Pearsall talks with 3 veterans on issues of immigration, citizenship & their service
- Senator Introduces Legislation to Address Deportation & Other Challenges for Immigrant Veterans, by Matthew Adams, Stars & Stripes, Nov. 10, 2023