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Saving Lance Corporal Hammar

12 December 2012

I’ve taken a few licks for what I wrote recently on MEDIA COVERAGE of Jon Hammar — the Iraq/Afghanistan veteran now in prison in Matamoros.  While I’m dubious of the reported events that led to his incarceration, and the politicized spin put on the story, Hammar himself is not a “symbol” nor a political cause… but a suffering human being in need of help.

Jon_HammarIf Hammar is a symbol of anything, it’s of the lack of treatment for mentally ill prisoners… and the need for more treatment and assistance for people with Post-traumatic Stress Disorders.  From everything that has been said, Hammar’s PSTD was the main factor in what led to his arrest, and other than being moved out of the general population, he doesn’t seem to be getting any treatment in prison.  For his own well-being, he needs to be released.

Sure, I’m a lefty (some say I define “conservative” as anyone to the right of Leon Trotsky) and see Jon Hammar as a victim of U.S. foreign policy, American cultural myopia and ridiculous gun laws.  So be it.  As the victim, he deserves our compassion.

Steve Newton, and the Silver Star Families of America(a highly regarded apolitical charity “dedicated to supporting and assisting wounded, ill, injured and dying active duty and Veterans and their families of ALL Branches of Service from ALL Wars”) are to be commended, not just for their general good work on behalf of military veterans with PTSD, and applauded not just for supporting Hammar, but for supporting him without giving in to frustration and anger over differences with Mexican  culture, laws and policies in their campaign to assist Jon Hammar.

A personal note:  I don’t have any personal contacts in Brownsville/Matamoros, but if anyone does know of someone, or knows of a organization that can keep tabs on Hammar’s welfare and well-being, Silver Star Families would like to hear from you.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. 12 December 2012 5:23 am

    I wonder if Silver Star Families has a treatment for survivors of the gringo wars on Chicanos and the for sure PTSD they leave in their wake. As if expensive-for-migrants segregated elementary “school” which didn’t teach s××t wasn’t enough, I distinctly recall being told quite overtly in fourth grade “California History” class that the Spanish civilization and technology were superior to that of the west coast indigenous peoples, but that white folks had them both topped. That’s how you describe a hierarchy of cultures and convey to a child his “place”. Do you suppose that my more nationalistic (then, or later), white-raised peers didn’t pick up on that? I know damn well they did, that and the rest of the cultural/political garbage extant then (and now), because they and some of the teachers made sure that I knew it. Along with being instructed by grandma Fierro that I should always respect other cultures–I was left a little diplomat: at thirteen years of age the last thing I wanted to be was “like them” (which is really what they wanted–(religious or not, gringos were/are proselytisers), but I didn’t need to tell them that. A “mere” child, well raised, can discern snarky, ill-advised cultural perceptions in an adult. Even my well-meaning French language teacher, astounded at my very good accent and facility with reading and conversation wanted to see me as “having French people” in my family (which smacks of nazi theories of “blood”). For him, as “continental” as he seemed there had to be an “answer” to the “question” that this young Chicano posed with his excellence, which otherwise was not explainable. My intelligence was too unexpected–that for sure I gleaned, over and over, at Fresno High. They could only see the “dumb Mexican”, in fact, steeped in colonialist/superiority ideology, that is what they “had” to see, or rock the boat. You didn’t want to be “white” in 1950’s Fresno schools and rock the boat any more than in the ’20’s or ’30’s, and there are people working very diligently even now to keep it that way with reactionary Arizonans showing the way. Not as continental, my English teacher was more abrupt: “Where did you copy this?” was her response to my, obvious to me, grade “A” short story. That day I really blew it, not showing it outwardly, but hugely pissed and fed up, because it brought to the fore the virtual mountain of anti-Mexican/Chicano insults, put-downs, harrassment and abuse that I’d been trying to forget, overlook, ignore–in short: to repress. Gringo culture, and especially gringo education I came to see was “something like a poison”. There were gringos that I liked a hell of a lot–but for sure too many “bad news” ones, as well. And, to my continued chagrin and disappointment even my “friends” were addicted to “Mexican jokes”. When I realized that I knew that those would never be lasting friendships–and when ten tears out of high school I left the US Army–a brief visit with my folks in Fresno and “old friends” was all that I could bear. I split, leaving them and “it” behind, for the bay area–after a year in D.C. and Alaska I was ready for a more cosmoplitan life. But my trials were not to end–never much on booze, after returning to civilian life I had a three year hiatus from sobriety. I am perectly sincere about being left by these experiences, and many which I will not recount, here, with something very like PTSD, but my question about treatment was rhetorical

  2. Allen G, from Tampico. permalink
    12 December 2012 8:32 am

    Anyone with a little common sense would conclude that Jon Hammar should be released and sent home. Why are we left in suspense, or, is there more to this ongoing saga?
    Mexicans, by and large, are not a harsh people. More loving and compassionate than many societies, this turn of evnts surprises me.
    Writing letters to the governor of the state will certainly elicit response.

    Rich may want to correct this:
    Eligo Torres, Tamaupilas.

    Unfortunately, Sr. Torres does not enjoy widespread adoration in this state.

  3. 12 December 2012 11:43 pm

    This is in no way an endorsement imprisonment of mentally ill people or, if a different phrase is preferred, PTSD-affected veterans, who are incapable of coping with vastly different legal systems, laws, cultures and behaviors while traveling through other nations.

    Ideally, people suffering from the effects of war — but it must be mentioned that it was war win which they volunteered to participate — would receive treatment by the VA until they were able to successfully cope with the world at large.

    I still have to ask, since he was known by family and friends to have such serious issues, did no one think to dissuade him from this journey? What sort of events might transpire if he were to become involved in a bar fight or military blockade where the personal effects in the motorhome were pulled from the vehicle and thrown from the ground – in Mexico or en route to Costa Rica? Would he have been able to handle huge bus backfires or other issues found in other countries?

    While his wealthy family is willing to move heaven and earth to get him released — and while I do not advocate for the imprisonment of PTSD-affected veterans — what were they thinking before he departed? Did they not think other laws, cultures, and norms would apply in other nations?

    And, all that said, he is a responsible adult. Unless and until ruled legally incapacitated by a US court, he would be held liable for compliance with the laws of the US.

    So, why is it unfair he is liable for compliance with the laws of Mexico? There’s such a strong theme of “it’s only a Mexican law, so just ignore it,” “just drop it,” “their laws don’t matter” throughout the reporting about and from his family and their representatives.

    That theme just doesn’t fly with me.

    I’ve read the Mexican laws about firearms recently, just because I was curious about the 25 vs 24 inch barrel requirement. The actual rule is 635mm and while the law says *one and only one* of these shotguns can be owned for hunting, apparently by Mexican citizens, it says nothing about being a legally-importable weapon for any reason. And mom saying “it is a glorified BB gun” doesn’t make it not a deadly weapon.

    For years and years, American media has been full of stories about the unfortunate traveler who “forgot two .38 rounds in the corner of the trunk” and was locked up for illegally importing ammunition. Claims that the US Customs and Border Patrol registered his weapon for Mexico are simply false. The CBP cannot do that.

    Yes, he should be in treatment, not jail or prison (whichever it is). I’m not sure I see where the claim that his PTSD is *why* he is imprisoned. Isn’t it due to the shotgun?

    Hammar’s PSTD was the main factor in what led to his arrest

    By the same token, it is no fault of Mexico’s that their laws were violated. It is wrong for foreign citizens to insist that *their* concept of legal rights be immediately available in a foreign land where different rules may apply.

    That’s not injustice, but jingoism.

    As far as finding someone to check on his welfare, his parents have more than enough money to hire a fleet of attorneys – US or Mexican – to huddle at the prison day and night. They have the resources to do much, much more than most Mexican victims of injustice.

    I wish him well, but the tears being spilled over the son of incredibly wealthy Americans with immense resources at their fingertips doesn’t sit well with me when I look at the rural poor without enough food for their children, living in dirt-floor thatched huts during the winter cold.

  4. 13 December 2012 12:07 pm

    @Antonio Perales Hierro if you know whats good for your people and country it would behoove you to release this marine. I’d hate to think of how much PTSD would be inflicted on your people when a group of marines get together and decides to rescue their brother. I guess a better way of putting it is for the safety of the Mexican people you might want to consider releasing this marine or we will come get him.

    • 03 That's Me permalink
      13 December 2012 4:18 pm

      @Texas Marine
      I have been thinking about that since I saw this article and many others on the news. The question remains though, is how it can be done in a way that can be at the least, 98% affective, and what Marines, (preferably already out, as not to defy the UCMJ and any unit commanders) would rally together, with whatever resources we together may have, in order to go and rescue him. As, for me, I am all for it, and 110% against ANYONE who wants to turn this issue into some political argument and begin to involve matters of a person’s mental state who has done no less than try to live a normal life after giving what 99% of the population in the US alone, have not, or will not. So, “Texas Marine”, contact me….bthompson8411@yahoo.com, and anyone else who may have an interest in truly, if at all possible, making an attempt to rescue our brother. Semper Fi!

  5. 13 December 2012 3:48 pm

    Well, that’s just a bit jingoistic.

    So, are you saying, Texas Marine, that the only law in the world, is the law at the point of a Marine’s gun? That the laws of all other nations are unimportant? Or is the argument that laws simply do not apply to Marines?

    I’m just trying to be sure I understand the argument you’re putting forward. Do the Marines believe in the rule of law?

    • 03 That's Me permalink
      13 December 2012 4:25 pm

      Do you, YucatanMan, have any concern of another man’s life? Their freedoms? Their desire and pursuit of happiness? Do you know what it is to be left stranded? To have done what others will and/or have not done for the protection of others? Would you, do you have the capability of doing anything to save this man’s life? Would you do anything to save the person’s life if it was your brother? Family member? Close relative? Please, with all due respect, keep your political aspects to yourself and think for a moment what you would do in the situation, instead of contributing nothing to the said argument that need not be argued, but more so addressed, in a manner that would present results, versus a manner that would do nothing but create a pointless argument about, once again, politics, because if it was your brother-in-arms, your family member, you would not take so kindly to comments such as this, and would curse people either directly, or passive-aggresively. So I would hope that you would have the slightest bit of respect, and not “attack” another Marine for their concern for OUR brother, if you would please. This is about as respectful as I can make this response, though I would greatly appreciate your silence on this matter from this point forward. Thank You

  6. 13 December 2012 4:41 pm

    And now there is only one point of view: the Marines’ point of view? All others must keep silent? Is that the nation you fight for? Or is our nation one of Freedom of Speech?

    If a Marine breaks the law, what is to be done? Work through the legal system? Or violate more laws, resort to violence, and take matters into your own hands? Do Marines regularly issue threats to other nations, independently of their chain of command, and threaten to take the law into their own hands?

    If this were my family member — and particularly if I had the vast resources of his wealthy family — I would be there, at the prison every day, staying in a nearby hotel and looking after him in person to the greatest extent possible. Visitation is regularly permitted to prisoners in Mexico.

    Hammar’s parents are fully capable of hiring therapists, of funding other Marines to stay in a hotel to visit him, of providing food, medications, etc, etc, etc, etc. Where are his parents? Why aren’t they in Mexico to take care of their own son?

    He should be treated humanely, but the rule of law applies.

    • 03 That's Me permalink
      13 December 2012 5:15 pm

      Nobody said that you can’t say anything. You just like to complain, to make things worse,….”everybody listen to me” as though nobody has ever heard what you wanted to say or contribute to the conversation. I feel sorry for you. Marines have broken laws, and have paid their consequences, no less human than anyone else. No Marine has made a threat to another nation, as the Marine who made the earlier comment, made no specific threat, only expressed his emotion and discontent; as you have clarified for us all, is a part of his freedom of speech. You, on the other hand, seem to be highly uneducated, though you will probably respond in defense and use more “big words” to back up your professed intelligence; I get the feeling that you are a small, kind of nerdy guy, hispanic (obviously), not in very good shape; you probably read a lot of books, culture, art, wear glasses, hang out at Starbucks all the time in your little neighborhood there in [I’m gonna guess either southern texas (though i highly doubt that) or more likely, in California, and Northern Cali at that] because people who make the silly, unintelligible comments and arguments such as what you are proposing, have nothing better to do but to create a fight to try and show off to their friends how they “told someone off” and “used their right to free speech”, as if you are trying to make a statement. But for what? It’s not a matter of a person’s wealth, or their families wealth at that, it’s a matter of the life of another human being and how it is affecting other people at this time, and their ideas to counter the situation, realistic or not. (But I actually think you are possibly a photographer, who likes to take pictures in the Yucatan Peninsula, who may even be in the Southern Illinois area, once again, sheltered, unknowing of what is real in the world other than overly dramatized arguments because you get to use your journalistic skills of argument….)

      If you took the time to read up on the entirety of the events that have taken place, i kind of remember that this young man is being held in a cartel controlled area. From my knowledge of such things, there is the contributing factor of a corrupt government in areas that are controlled by cartels. Therefore, yes, there is more at play here than what can be told because there is enough politics going through this situation to breathe air back into the lungs of President Lincoln himself. But I’m sure that you know all of this. You are one of those “I know everything kids” because you think you had such good grades back in high school and your teachers promoted and encouraged your every argument living as the unfortunate misguided liberal that you are. Once again, I feel sorry for you. In fact, I know you are going to try and come up with more to say, to fight and argue about, because that’s all you know to do. That’s all you are capable of. I can bet a million dollars that you wouldn’t and couldn’t show your face in a recruiting office, and do half of what this young Marine has done. It’s just not your genetic build.

      Look, whether you’re some old man born in the 1950’s and complains like a teenager, or some young adult stuffed Starbucks, looking for love, making your posts on God-tube, looking for a Godly woman in your life, (who will have no interest in your prophetic arguments), or being a self made “trip adviser”, it all doesn’t matter to me. All that was said was to have some respect, and hop on another bandwagon of politics to argue or complain about, and to respectfully leave this guy, these Marines, us Marines, alone. You definitely aren’t contributing, so you are not adding to a hopeful solution. You can close your eyes and imagine everything that I could say, but won’t say, because I already know that you have to have the last word….and you will, at least on here. I no longer have a desire to say anything more, and will allow you to continue to make a fool out of yourself. I’m more concerned about my fellow Marine, than your wasted breathing of what little air there is on this dying planet. God Bless, and Good night.

  7. 13 December 2012 6:36 pm

    Excuse me, gentleman, but this website is not some public accommodation, nor is it located in the United States. Appeals to “Free Speech” are irrelevant and yes, someone can say ” you can’t say anything” on this site… ME.

    “. So, “Texas Marine”, contact me….bthompson8411@yahoo.com, and anyone else who may have an interest in truly, if at all possible, making an attempt to rescue our brother. Semper Fi!” reads like a terrorist threat and was an extremely stupid thing to say.

    ¡Adios, muchacho!

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