Imagine a young man growing up and volunteering to join the US Marine Corps. He goes through all of his training and then in 2004 finds himself in Fallujah, Iraq. While on a routine patrol, his unit is notified of wires in the ground ahead. He volunteers to go check it out along with his best friend and the squad leader. As they approach the wires, the EID goes off, killing his best friend and severely wounding him. He ends up spending the next two and half years at Bethesda Hospital undergoing over 20 surgeries. He ends up blind in one eye and without the use of his left shoulder or hand, among his other injuries.
Meet Cpl. Nathan Kemnitz as he describes what happened to him that fateful day nine years ago:
Kemnitz was awarded the Purple Heart for his injuries and has a chest full of medals, which he wears proudly. Recently, he was named Veteran of the Year in the district where he lives. To receive his award, Kemnitz put on his dress blue uniform and headed to Sacramento. What should have been a rewarding trip turned into his being treated more like a terrorist than a war hero.
When he went through security at the Sacramento International Airport, TSA officers acted like he was a suicide bomber rather than a decorated veteran. To begin with, he could not raise his right arm due to his injuries, which presented a problem with the full body scanner. Next, the TSA agent ordered him to remove his dress uniform because it had too much metal on it. Then they ran their hands along his clothes, under his waistband and then swabbed his shoes for explosive residues.
Traveling with Kemnitz was Patricia Martin who took photos of the whole incident because it upset her the way he was being treated by the TSA agents. You can view some of those photos here. She wrote to Eric Shinseki, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs to complain about the treatment Kemnitz endured:
“What does the uniform and heroism represent if our own citizens – in this case employees of the TSA and security personnel – have no regard for them?”
Ross Feinstein, spokesman for TSA issued a statement about the incident saying:
“Our intent is to treat all injured service members and veterans with the dignity they deserve, As always, all passengers with disabilities and medical conditions are eligible for screening procedures sensitive to their particular disability, medical condition or other unique medical circumstance.”
“Transportation Security Officers have to resolve any anomaly detected at the checkpoint.”
“As is standard procedure for all passengers, if travelers alarm when passing through a metal detector or an advanced imaging technology (AIT) unit, additional screening is required in order to resolve that anomaly.”
Other wounded veterans have experienced similar treatment from TSA agents which has prompted changes, but evidently not everyone is aware of them. If a wounded veteran or active military intend to fly, they need to first call the TSA agency known as Military Severely Injured Joint Services Operation Center to make arrangements to allow them to get through security without being so humiliated and treated more like an enemy rather than a hero.
While the incident with the TSA at the airport greatly upset Martin, Kemnitz said it was the rude and unapologetic way he was treated by the security screener at the state capitol building. When Kemnitz uniform set off the metal detector, the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms said he had to take off his dress blue jacket because it had too much metal. An argument ensued between him, Martin and the security screener.
Eventually, Kemnitz received his honor, but the entire ordeal was troubling and disheartening for him to have gone through. The man almost lost his life and suffered permanent debilitating injuries serving his country and then is treated like the Boston Bomber by TSA agents and capital security. Can the Obama administration and liberal Democrats do anything else to mock, ridicule and degrade our military veterans? I pray not, but it won’t surprise to learn that there’s more abuse coming their way.