Banished US veterans lean on each other south of border
TIJUANA, Mexico – They served the United States on battlefields from Korea to Iraq, but now they live in the shadow of the nation they once served, deported to Mexico for offenses as minor as getting caught with marijuana.
While many U.S. veterans find adjusting to civilian life difficult, writing a bad check, possessing marijuana or getting into a bar fight are enough to get some veterans banished from the nation they fought to protect. That’s because they were not citizens when they donned the uniform and took up arms for America. Any U.S. obligation to them ended when they got in trouble with the law.
“Some people get out of the military and go back to communities with good support systems and some don’t,” said Hector Barajas, 38, one of several veterans who lives in the Deported Veterans Support House, a modest building in the Otay Centenario neighborhood on the east side of Tijuana. “Many of the men being deported served in Vietnam and didn’t get the treatment that we’re supposed to get.”