A major veterans' organization is asking millions of U.S. military personnel and veterans to call and email the White House to demand it gain the release of a Marine reservist jailed in Mexico since being arrested in March on gun charges.
Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander John Stroud is also demanding the White House impose sanctions on Mexico unless it releases Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who says he crossed the border into Mexico with firearms by accident.
"At this point, it's asinine that a government – especially that of our immediate neighboring country – and one we've had a historically good and mutually beneficial relationship with at that, has gone to such extremes over an honest mistake," Stroud said.
Imposing sanctions on Mexico, he said, "seems the least [President Obama] can do at this point."
Stroud said he is asking not only for the support of the 1.9 million members of the VFW and its auxiliaries, "but for the entire military and veteran community to rally for one of their own."
The VFW in June called for a boycott of Mexico until it released Tahmooressi. Stroud, in a statement Thursday, repeated the call, asking "America's nearly 22 million veterans to boycott all travel to Mexico and the purchase of its goods ... a total boycott."
Stroud said the VFW has twice tried the "politically polite route" of asking President Obama to urge Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to have Tahmooressi released.
But with Tahmooressi still in custody he Stroud wants all veterans "to take action by flooding the White House with calls and emails ... immediately." His statement includes the main switchboard number to the White House – 202-456-1111 – and a link to email the President via a VFW "Action Alert" page.
In addition, Stroud included the contact information for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, and asked veterans to call and write officials there.
Mexican authorities arrested Tahmooressi after he crossed the border near San Diego, Calif., with several guns that are legally registered to him in the U.S. Tahmooressi said he did not realize he had crossed the border.
Tahmooressi was in San Diego for treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, supporters say. He was first held at La Mesa prison in Tijuana, where reports say he was chained to a bed in his cell and beaten by guards.
Tahmooressi was later moved to a prison in Tecate, where Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., first visited him on May 31. Salmon said afterwards that Tahmooressi's treatment at the Tecate prison was an improvement and that he found him in good spirits.
-- Bryant Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org