An Iraq War veteran is being held in a Mexican jail, chained to his bed, his life continuously threatened, while his family is extorted for money...and our nation's leaders appear impotent (or negligent) by their failure to help him.
After you've read the story below, please go to the White House petition and sign it to press the Obama Administration to start working to bring Jon Hammar home.
I first read the story of Jon Hammar's idiotic incarceration and mistreatment in a Mexican jail via an e-mail from Bev Perlson of The Band of Mothers.
Here's the background:
Jon Hammar is a 27-year old Iraq War veteran who joined the Marines and was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.
According to one account, in Fallujah, Hammar's battalion was hit hard, with 13 killed in action and more than 100 wounded.
Hammar was honorably discharged in 2007 after serving his country in the war-torn sand. However, he also returned suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Last year he voluntarily checked himself in to The Pathway Home and graduated earlier this year.
Hammar developed PTSD following the death of a fellow Marine who was killed by a sniper's bullet when the two served together in Fallujah, Iraq.
Jon Hammar has, however, found peace in the water--on a surf board.
“The only time Hammar is not losing his mind is when he’s on the water,” said a fellow Marine veteran, Ian McDonough.
In early August, Hammar and McDonough embarked on a surfing trip to Costa Rica.
With their surfboards in tow, Hammar and McDonough made their way South. However, they didn't get too far.
They made it to only the Mexican border. Hammar is in a Matamoros prison, where he spends much of his time chained to a bed and facing death threats from gangsters. He’s off the grid, for sure, in walking distance of the U.S. border. But it’s more of a black hole than a place to heal a troubled soul.
The reason might seem ludicrous. Hammar took a six-decade-old shotgun into Mexico. The .410 bore Sears & Roebuck shotgun once belonged to his great-grandfather. The firearm had been handed down through the generations, and it had become almost a part of Hammar, suitable for shooting birds and rabbits.
While some might argue, Hammar should have never taken his gun, he was complying with the law--or so he thought:
The pair had crossed the border and handed the paperwork for the weapon to Mexican officials, but police ended up impounding their RV and jailing the men, saying it was illegal to carry that type of gun. Hammar's friend was later released because the gun did not belong to him.
His "crime" was not the carrying of the weapon, per se, it was the length of the barrel.
The family's attorney said Mexican law prohibits civilians from carrying certain types of guns, like sawed-off shotguns, which can be more easily concealed.
Mexican law prohibits shotguns with a barrel of less than 25 inches.
Family attorney Eddie Varon-Levy said Mexican officials measured the barrel on Hammar's shotgun as 24 inches. It has not been sawed off.
Family members said the gun was purchased at Sears and blamed U.S. officials for telling Hammar he could bring it across the border in the first place.
To repeat: Hammar was following the instructions he was told was the proper way to take the gun into Mexico:
The Customs and Border Protection agent said it was all right to take the shotgun, McDonough said, adding that the agent told them: “ ‘All you have to do is register it.’ So they gave us a piece of paper and said, ‘This is your registration. You’ve got to pay this much.’ They gave us the piece of paper to give to the Mexican authorities.”
As soon as the Winnebago lumbered over the bridge and they handed over the form to Mexican agents, trouble began. The two spent several days in custody, separated from each other. Mexican authorities eventually freed McDonough, perhaps because of his Argentine residency, and he walked back to Brownsville.
Since August, Hammar has been sitting in a Mexican jail in Matamoros, confined to solitary confinement and chained to a bed. The jail known for housing criminals from the Mexican drug cartels.
Since being imprisoned, Hammar's parents have received anonymous phone calls trying to extort them for money.
“They said, ‘I have your son. We need money.’ I said, ‘I’m going to call the (U.S.) consulate.’ They said, ‘The consulate can’t help you.’ Then they put him on the phone. He said, ‘Mom, you need to pay them,’ ” Olivia Hammar told Johnson.
Earlier today, the first photo of John Hammar was released by Fox News Latino.
It was sent to Hammar's mother anonymously from the prison:
"I found your email on the Internet and I wanted to send you this photo," the email read in Spanish. "I am not giving you my name because I like my job and I don't want to lose it. Juan is OK but I hope he is let out quickly."
Please help push the Obama Administration into acting to press Mexican authorities for the release of Jon Hammar by signing the White House petition.
You can also call the White House Switchboard: 202-456-1414 or the State Deptartment (202-647-4000).
This soldier needs to come home. Our servicemen and women deserve better than this.
"Truth isn't mean. It's truth."
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)
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