EL PASO, Texas - There are men and women who have served in the United States Military, but are now living in dire conditions across the Border. While there are deported veterans all over the world, the Northeast Disabled American Veteran (DAV) 187 Chapter focuses on donating supplies to veterans in our sister city- Ciudad Juarez.
The chapter knows of about 30 veterans currently residing in Juarez. Many of them are Vietnam Veterans, who are also disabled. Some veteran's families live in the United States, while others have their families with them in Juarez. The veterans who work typically make only $5-10 a day, according to El Paso County Veteran of the Year, David Garcia. Thus, the veterans who are part of the DAV 187 Chapter feel it is their duty to help their fellow brothers and sisters across the border.
There are likely several reasons why the veterans got deported, but ABC-7 was told most of the veterans in Juarez got in trouble with the law in the United States. The DAV chapter shared they are typically minor infractions, but do not have the exact details with each case.
Steve Welsch, who is the Chapter Commander for DAV 187 in the Northeast explained why it is important to take care of his fellow brothers and sisters:
"They are disabled veterans over there, they are deported veterans, but they are still veterans, and therefore we are there to assist them with their needs and everything, even though that they have faced other circumstances where they are deported,"..."they basically enlisted in the military, they signed a blank check, they served our country, so, therefore, our country owes them."
The DAV 187 Chapter is heavily focused on gathering and delivering the necessary supplies to the deported veterans across the Border. They collect all types of items, such as non-perishable food items, clothing, toiletries, and monetary donations to help them pay their rent in Juarez. They also partner up with various organizations that also provide donations, such as the Elks Lodge, Sam's Club, Economy Wholesale, Retired Sargent Major William Vicar, American G.I. Forum, American Legion, and several other groups as well.
John Gomez and Jermaine Henderson are both disabled veterans who are part of the Elks Lodge 187 organization. Their group does its best to help out those in need, especially military veterans because they are veterans themselves. Their organization donated several packs of soaps, shampoos, deodorants, and more for this week's delivery to the deported veterans in Juarez. It's truly a team effort to supply the veterans with what they need.
Another aspect of the group is the legal one. They need help legally with trying to get some of the veterans back across the border and into the United States. Carlos Rivera who is the Commander of the American G.I. Forum in El Paso, and is also a Vietnam Veteran has made it his mission to help repatriate veterans legally and is looking for help to do it.
"Any veteran, especially if they have an immigration law background, we invite them to join us and of course provide free legal counsel for veterans. They need that in terms of when they apply for repatriation, and when they go through the process of getting back into the United States. And also we need veterans who can provide experience in providing veterans benefits assistance to help them out with their VA claims," Rivera shared.
If you want to help the mission of the DAV, and the brothers and sisters beyond the border, here's how you can do it:
-Send checks or cash to the Northeast DAV Chapter by mail to 8888 Dyer Street, Suite 413
-Bring non-perishable food items, clothing, and toiletries to the location above
-If you are familiar with immigration law, reach out to Carlos Rivera with the American G.I Forum at 915-255-8877.
ABC-7 will continue to update this story throughout the day.