- Rep. Gallego wants service members who participated in the Capitol riot to lose their benefits.
- He said the group’s actions are “not representative of the large population of American veterans.”
- Nearly 20 percent of the individuals charged in the riot had a military background, per NPR.
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Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona, a Marine Corps veteran, last week called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough to withdraw benefits from active-duty service members, veterans, or military retirees who participated in the deadly January 6 Capitol riot.
“The behavior of these individuals is not representative of the large population of American veterans, the vast majority of whom served honorably and are appalled by the thought of insurrection in the country they served,” he wrote in a letter. “Yet, many of the veterans and service members who attacked their own government actively and enthusiastically enjoy benefits not available to their fellow citizens.”
Such benefits include access to disability compensation, more affordable healthcare options, and vocational opportunities.
Gallego added: “This situation is unjust. Any retiree or service member who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 forfeited their moral entitlement to the support of the people of the United States.”
Nearly 20 percent of the individuals charged in the riot had a military background, according to an NPR report.
Gallego, a member of the US House Armed Services Committee, asked McDonough to work with Attorney General Merrick Garland to identify the riot participants, citing 38 U.S. Code § 6104 as a rationale to withdraw benefits.
Section 6104 of the US code covers benefits for veterans and their dependants.
In addition to McDonough, Gallego also sent letters to Garland, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Secretary of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Federal prosecutors have already charged more than 300 people for their involvement with the attack, with more individuals expected to face federal charges.
In his personalized letter, Gallego asked Austin and Mayorkas to “quickly identify, investigate and prosecute any active service member or retiree who participated in the attack.”
He added: “Insurrectionists should not enjoy benefits they no longer deserve.”
During the insurrection, Gallego, who served in the Iraq War, sheltered several members of the media in his office.
Five people died during the violent rioting spree, including Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, in what was the most significant breach of the US Capitol since 1814.