Keeping a promise

Dear Martin,

On New Year’s Eve, 2020, as you were preparing to leave this life and begin your journey into the unknown, I promised that I would continue your battle to get your discharge from the Navy upgraded to Honorable, and to have you buried at Willamette National Cemetery with full military honors. I’m writing this to you to tell you that I have your corrected DD-214 showing that you served your country with honor, and I have scheduled your military funeral and interment for June 9, 2023, at 3:00 p.m.

It’s been a long, difficult, and frustrating journey, but I have been determined to keep my promise to you. I’ve had wonderful support from the ODVA, Senators Merkley and Wyden, and countless people who never knew you but who have wanted to see justice done.

I decided early in this process that, although your burial would be my primary goal, I wanted to take it further than that. I want to tell your story – our story – far and wide with the hope of getting justice for the thousands of men and women who were unfairly discharged and were denied the benefits they should have had. I want your funeral to be a media event. I want national news coverage. I want a law passed that will grant benefits to Veterans who have served honorably and whose only “sin” was being who they are. My goal is to eventually go before Congress to tell your story and to get a law passed so that no other Veteran, no family of a deceased Veteran, has to go through what I’ve been through.

Yesterday, I took the first step toward that goal. Steve Duin, a columnist for The Oregonian, came to the house and interviewed me for almost two hours. He was appalled at the way you were treated, and impressed that I had been able to accomplish what I set out to do. The column will appear in about two weeks, and I hope it will catch the attention of someone who can make it go nationwide.

I love you, son, and miss you. As happy as I am to be able to keep this promise I made, I wish with all my heart that you were here to celebrate our success. I know that it’s the last gift I can give you, and I’m so very thankful that it’s the one that was your heart’s desire.

Love always,

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