American Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi has been jailed in Mexico on weapons trafficking charges since March 31st, after mistakenly taking a wrong turn in his vehicle and crossing into Mexico. Unable to turn around before driving through customs, he was detained and subsequently jailed. Sergeant Tahmooressi was in California at the time, having travelled from Florida to seek treatment for PTSD after completing two tours in Afghanistan. He was carrying three legally purchased (in the U.S.) firearms at the time of his arrest, as all his possessions were in his truck while he searched for housing during his PTSD treatment.
This situation needs immediate attention — from us as individual citizens and from the White House as our seat of power. In addition to the recent discovery that at least a few VA hospitals are a frightening quagmire of delayed treatment and allegedly falsified wait times for treatment, now we have a U.S. Marine in trouble, and we need to speak up clearly and strenuously on his behalf.
The irony here is of an obvious flavor: Mexicans flow through our borders illegally, but we have one American Marine in trouble in Mexico after two tours of active duty, and his distraught mother, working all available channels, is virtually helpless to affect his release.
I happened to hear the Sergeant’s mother, Jill Tahmooressi, interviewed on the radio this week and she is at her wit’s end. Sergeant Tahmooressi attempted to escape from his state-run Mexican jail after his arrest, and has since been transferred to a Mexican federal penitentiary in Tecate, Mexico. Remember, this is someone with PTSD.
He is undoubtedly nervous and not at all trusting that Mexican authorities will handle his case quickly and with a favorable outcome. He needs treatment for his PTSD now, and his escape attempt illuminates this fact (although I am not suffering from PTSD and I can’t say that I wouldn’t attempt an escape from a Mexican prison).
He was willing to load all his worldly belongings into a truck and drive to California for treatment — it is very doubtful that he would jeopardize this opportunity by taking a weapons-laden jaunt into Mexico. This was clearly a terrible accident.
A petition drive has been launched to trigger President Obama’s intervention on Sargent Tahmooressi’s behalf. In order for the White House to look into the case, 100,000 signatures must be collected by May 31st. In addition, Senator Marco Rubio stated this week that while he understands that Mexico wants to handle the case through their judicial system, he believes it is time for President Obama to intervene. “I think he should call on the authorities over there, including the president of the country Peña Nieto, and make this a priority,” he said, adding that America should “use our diplomatic influence to ensure that they know that this matters to us.”
Semper Fi is shorthand for the the official Marine motto, Semper Fidelis, which means “Always Faithful,” a dedication to corps, country, and fellow Marines. We need to adopt our own Semper Fi as citizens and act quickly through our signatures, prayers, and attention to help this deserving Marine return safely to the country he has twice risked his life for. We have power — let’s wake it up from its slumber and use it.
Deirdre Reilly has written one humor book, and authored a syndicated family life column for Gatehouse Media for 13 years. She has won a Massachusetts Press Award for humor, her op-eds have been published in the Boston Herald and The Hartford Courant, and she has had short fiction published in literary journals. Deirdre was raised in Columbia, Md., and now lives outside Boston, Ma. She enjoys outdoor pursuits, and is obsessed with the care and happiness of a retired carriage horse named Nello that she bought for a few hundred dollars on a menopausal whim.