Cpl. Nathan Kemnitz, a Marine who earned a Purple Heart due to injuries sustained when blown up by a roadside bomb in 2004, traveled in California earlier in the year to be honored as his legislative district’s veteran of the year.
But the decorated war veteran learned during his trip that the sacrifices he has made for his Nation mean nothing to government employees instructed to view every citizen as a terror threat.
“At some places I’m treated like royalty and at some like a terrorist. There’s got to be something in the middle,” Kermnitz told Military Times.
Passing through a security checkpoint at the California State Capitol, Kermnitz was instructed to remove his dress blue blouse “because he was wearing too much metal” to be screened to enter the building. An argument ensued between the wounded war vet, a friend and the security screener at the government building.
During the same trip, Kermnitz was told by Transportation Security Administration officials at the Sacramento International Airport that he would need to raise his arms above his head in order to pass through a full-body scanner. Unfortunately, the injuries he sustained from the roadside bomb in Fallujah, Iraq, forced him to refuse the TSA request.
Kermnitz, who was deployed to Iraq in 2004, was injured by enemy explosives a month before he was set to leave. The blast sent shrapnel flying into his face, damaged nerves and permanently injured his arm.
“My right arm doesn’t work. It’s a lot of hassle for me to do that,” Kemntiz said.
Those who were with Kermnitz at the time of the abusive screenings have spoken out against the government security workers’ mistreatment of wounded war veterans.
“What does a uniform and heroism represent if our own citizens — in this case employees of the TSA and security personnel — have no regard for them?” wrote Patricia Martin, veterans services coordinator at Pasadena City College in a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
Martin told the New York Daily News on Tuesday that security screeners fail to employ critical thinking skills when it comes to screening wounded warriors.
“Ask for a military ID, pull him aside — but don’t degrade him in front of everyone,” she said.