ACLU Urges Lawmakers to Support Free Speech Rights of Servicemembers

March 6, 2007 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee and Congressman John Tierney (D-MA), Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs for holding hearings to investigate the mistreatment of veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The following may be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“We strongly support injured servicemembers’ right to speak out about any substandard care they received at Walter Reed. The First Amendment guarantees and protects the freedom of speech for members of the armed services. Veterans’ complaints about the quality of their care and their demands that our government fulfill its responsibility to them are matters of great public interest and concern.

“The ACLU condemns the neglectful treatment our injured service men and women received at Walter Reed. We commend the Washington Post for its excellent reporting on this issue and support the soldiers who cooperated with the reporters. There are no negative national security implications when those who bore the battle simply ask that their government provide them with the care they were promised when they enlisted.

“Congress must ensure that no servicemembers suffer reprisals for speaking out about their care, or about any waste, fraud or abuse that affects the quality of their care. Protecting veterans’ rights to speak out about problems in the military’s care system can only benefit our national security by assuring the men and women of our armed forces they will receive the finest care possible. We urge Congress to conduct robust, oversight on veterans’ medical care to ensure that our government is meeting the needs of our injured service men and women.”

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