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Injured Vet Traveling to Be Honored Is Aggressively Searched by TSA Agents

The retired marine could not lift his right arm above his head to comply with requests.
 
 
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An injured Iraq War veteran was just trying to make it to the California state capitol to be honored as his legislative district’s Veteran of the Year when he was humiliated by security agents. At the state capitol,  security determined  that retired Marine Cpl. Nathan Kermintz was “wearing too much metal” (he was in full-dress uniform wearing all of his medals) and thus needed to remove his blouse. Kermintz, however,  was severely injured by a roadside bomb in Fallujah, and cannot lift his right arm above his head. For the same reason, he could not comply with the TSA’s requests to raise his arms above his head for the full-body scanner, either.

“My right arm doesn’t work. It’s a lot of hassle for me to do that,” Kemntiz  said.  At the the airport, a TSA agent searched under Kemnitz’s medals and his waistband, swabbing his shoes for explosives. 

“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?” said Kemnitz’s escort, Patricia Martin, to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.  “I feel so strongly that you need to know just how shamefully even a Purple Heart recipient/disabled veteran can be treated by some TSA and security employees."

Kemnitz said he was more annoyed by the state capitol screener, who he called rude, than TSA agents. He and a friend argued with them at the scene.

“At some places I’m treated like royalty and at some like a terrorist. There’s got to be something in the middle,” he said.

Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor and drug policy reporter at AlterNet.  Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne

 
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