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Bring home the 83,000 MIA/POWs from U.S. foreign wars

This petition had 124 supporters


In support of:

· World War II Families for the Return of the Missing
· Search and Recover Greatest Generation
· Korea Cold War Families of the Missing
· National Alliance of Families for the Return of America’s Missing Servicemen

It is well known that more than 83,000 U.S. military veterans who died for our freedom remain listed as missing. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and Department of Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) were tasked with accounting for Americans listed as POW or MIA in all past wars and conflicts. Its motto was “Until they are home.”

In the wake of a number of scandals, damning revelations, and failures to perform their mission, Congress mandated that the U.S. Department of Defense deactivate JPAC in 2014, and merge their function, and that of the Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office and Life Sciences Equipment Lab, into one. A new department was formed, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and has been assigned the duty of accounting for our missing and bringing home all of those that are recoverable.

Yet DPAA, which listed “greater transparency” and a family-centered approach among its goals, has been anything but transparent. The DPAA hired a consulting firm, whose contract is currently reported to be near $8 million dollars. The purpose of the consulting firm is to instruct DPAA in the task of forming an organization. None of those funds are being used to recover our war dead, many of who lie in mud, water, or are otherwise exposed to the elements, or are buried in unmarked graves. The department’s detailed expenditures have not been made available to the public, even when asked.

When the former leadership of JPAC was slated to head the new organization at DPAA, the families of the missing objected, saying that new leadership is needed to avoid repeating past mistakes. As a result of their outcry the families are forbidden to participate in meetings or to receive any direct communication from DPAA regarding the return of their own family members. Over time, thousands of family members have died waiting to bury their sons and daughters who died for our country.

In some cases, crash sites have been known to the U.S. Government for more than 30 years, and souvenir hunters have been allowed to plunder these sacred sites and carry off everything up to and including the human remains of our fallen.

Please sign this petition to hold our government to accounting for every one of our missing veterans from foreign wars and to locate, identify, and return all of the recoverable remains of our fallen. Hold them to immediately recovering remains that whose locations are known. Every American expects nothing less. And those who died deserve so much more.

Do you believe that Americans must honor military service men and women and their families and uphold our promise to Leave No One Behind? Please sign this petition to hold our government accountable. Tell the President, the Congress, and the Department of Defense that when Americans die for our country, this is our obligation and theirs: NO ONE LEFT BEHIND.

We, the undersigned, petition President Barack Obama and the United States Congress to:

1. Locate, identify, and return all recoverable U.S. military remains by 2020
2. Identify the “unknowns” buried in overseas American Military Cemeteries
3. Immediately recover known remains in accessible areas in the countries of our allies
4. Establish a complete, public, online database of all U.S. MIAs

To accomplish these goals, we insist that the government take immediate action to:

1. Halt the $7 million “reorganization” of JPAC/DPMO/LSEL, wherein taxpayer dollars are being paid to a consulting firm that is advising the Defense Department on how to set up an organization.

2. Reallocate the funds to recovery and repatriation efforts.

3. Allocate additional funding needed to appropriately accomplish the mission of location, identification, recovery and return.

4. Perform the work of identification, recovery, and returning our locatable overseas war dead.

5. Identify the 6,482 unidentified WWII veterans buried in overseas American Military Cemeteries, honor them with properly marked graves, and notify their surviving families.

6. Secure sites that are currently open to scavenging by treasure-hunters and souvenir-seekers. Give these most vulnerable sites top recovery priority.

7. Investigate credible leads that may prove remains to be “recoverable” which were previously deemed “unrecoverable,” with oversight by a civilian committee that will include family members and their representatives. This committee must include family members and representatives who have deep knowledge of the recovery efforts to-date.

8. Acknowledge significant, verifiable identification-and-recovery efforts by cooperative foreign governments, archeologists, historians and civilians involved in locating and correctly identifying crash sites and U.S. military remains.

9. Publish recovery schedules weekly.

10. Publish actual recoveries weekly.

11. Allow all family member stakeholders and their organizations to participate in meetings and engage in open, meaningful communication with the office of the Defense Department’s recovery team.

12. Form a civilian oversight committee that includes family members of MIA/POWs and their representatives. This committee shall include family members and representatives who have deep knowledge of the recovery efforts to-date.

Background

More than 83,000 Americans who died overseas in the U.S. Armed Forces are still missing. Over 73,000 are from World War II. Some will forever be unrecoverable. But hundreds or, more likely, thousands of them still lie where they died, some unburied, some in isolated areas, others in recoverable underwater sites. Battlegrounds and crash sites have become popular destinations for souvenir hunters – even those which hold the human remains of our fallen veterans. American families have suffered for decades, knowing where their loved-ones remains are, but powerless to bring them home. Other Americans suffer the agony of not knowing. The bottom line is that we have abandoned these war dead who died for us.

We can and must do better for them.

In 2014, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced his decision to dismantle JPAC (as was mandated by Congress), the agency responsible for accounting for U.S. MIAs and bringing them home. This decision came after a number of glaring and well-reported failures were made by that agency. The new organization, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), currently has a budget exceeding $7 million for the reorganization. None of this money is earmarked to locate, identify, or bring home a single veteran. All of the information obtained to date shows that these taxpayer dollars are going to a strategic consulting firm that specializes in “change management.” A detailed accounting has been requested by veteran’s families, but the new organization is even less transparent than JPAC/DPMP were before them. The Defense Department promised that the new DPAA will be transparent and foster direct involvement of families who are still trying to get their loved-ones home. As of March 2015, three of the Family Organization Groups have been banned from weekly calls and from receiving any communication from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. This was in response to the families' demand for new leadership, when they learned that DPAA was being organized under the same failed leadership of the old organization, and because the family groups asked the tough questions that needed to be asked.

When we send young men and women to war, we promise them “no man left behind.” They went. They died. We owe this to them and to their families. Bring them home, without delay.

Further Reading:

Wikipedia: Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command
Wikipedia: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency
CBS News Washington: “Families frustrated by changes to POW/MIA system”
Stars and Stripes: JPAC’s critics skeptical that new POW/MIA agency will solve problems
Stars and Stripes: POW/MIA groups ask Congress to investigate JPAC reorganization
Associated Press: Pentagon sets up new POW-MIA office
MissingPatriot.com: WWII Families for the Return of the Missing – March 2015 Newsletter
WW2Research.com: MIA: No man left behind?

 



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