All Things Soldier: Andrew Tahmoressi Is Home At Last

11-7-2014 1-58-11 PMAfter 214 days in a Mexican prison, Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmoressi is home at last, re-united with his family, and enjoying re-entry with them in South Florida. With this edition of Athens Now so focused on vets and Veterans’ Day, I am glad Andrew’s release was timed so that we would have one more thing about which to be thankful when it comes to our veterans.

While we can all rejoice that Andrew is free, we have to take a long hard look at what went down, and why it took so long for him to be released. There was no question that he had literally “taken a wrong turn,” and ended up in Tijuana, which can be dicey in any context, but especially if you have any firearms with you.

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By anyone’s estimation, the appearance of advocacy toward Andrew on the part of the United States government was weak, and Andrew languished in prison, week after week, and month after month. Thankfully we live in an era where technology has the ability to truly change things, and Andrew’s case went viral. Television personality and former Lt. Commander Montel Williams appeared on Capitol Hill to plead with fire and tears for his release. There were blogs, there were online petitions, and representatives, a governor, his mother, and “everyman” citizens everywhere were relentless in calling for his liberation. They were not going to take no for an answer, and thank God they didn’t.

In a turn of events that surprised everyone, the Mexican Attorney General withdrew all the charges against Andrew, a move that can only be considered miraculous. The AG actually called for “an immediate and absolute release,” allegedly on humanitarian grounds. Due to the fact that Andrew had been diagnosed with PTSD earlier this spring, the Mexican government finally decided to let him go. Why it took them 7 months is beyond me. It would seem that if they were worried about him “twisting off” in jail, being a danger to himself or others, it would have been in their best interest to have gotten him out of there pronto, and on the United States’ dime.

It is interesting to note the involvement of broadcast media during the ordeal. Greta Van Susteran of FOX News actually drove the exact route Andrew took at night when he made the wrong turn, and demonstrated that the signage was dreadfully confusing. In fact, as a result of all the media coverage regarding the signage, the State of California has changed it so something like this can never happen again. By contrast, Andrew’s plight was essentially ignored by the rest of the media.

Andrew’s defense attorney also claimed that he was held illegally, was not given access to a translator, and not allowed to have any interaction with the United States Embassy. It was the deterioration due to the PTSD and the violation of his civil rights that appeared to get the most traction as far as an argument on his behalf was concerned. As sure as I am of all of that, what I would bet money on would be the prayers of his mother. A mom’s prayers can be a force of nature, and Jill Tahmoressi has been relentless.

As it was, Andrew arrived on a private jet, and said that he wanted steak and some stone crabs. A healthy appetite is a good sign when it comes to PTSD, and may Andrew continue to heal, and eventually to thrive. Welcome home, Marine.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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