The following message comes from the attorney that works with Oklahoma Center for Conscience. He provides low-cost, and when possible through our support, no-cost legal services to active duty military seeking conscientious objector status and discharge.
We will shortly have a Paypal button on this site for easy donations using a credit/debit card. In the meantime, you can send a donation via Paypall using the address info – at – centerforconscience -dot- com. Note in the remarks field that your donation should be used for legal support.
For Joshua Key & Daniel Sandate
My name is James M. Branum. I am a solo-practice attorney working in the area of GI Rights law, meaning that I assist members of the U.S. military who want to be discharged early and/or who are facing a court-martial because of their acts of conscience while in the military.
I am working with the Oklahoma Center for Conscience (www.centerforconscience.org) to raise funds for two of my clients who are in serious situations and who are unable to pay for my expenses at time.
Donations can be made today at the OCC table of the OKC Peace Festival (just put your donations into the “Legal Support” bucket).
You can also donate later by sending a check or money order to: Oklahoma Center for Conscience, 504 NE 16th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73104.
The Case of Joshua Key – an Oklahoma Soldier who is seeking asylum status in Canada because of his refusal to return to Iraq
Joshua Key, was a poor kid from Guthrie, Oklahoma, who saw the U.S. army and its promised benefits — from free health care to career training — as the ticket to a better life. In 2002, not yet 24 but already married and the father of two, Key enlisted. He says his recruiting officer promised he’d never be deployed abroad, but a year later he was in Iraq.
Iraq was horrific experience which left him with a terrible case of PTSD (which he recounts in his book, The Deserter’s Tale: The account of an ordinary soldier who walked away from the war in Iraq), so when he came back home on leave, he knew he couldn’t go back. He and his family left Ft. Carson, Colorado and ended up living in their car in Philadelphia for about a year before they made their way to Canada. Since then, Joshua has been fighting in the Canadian Immigration system for the right to remain in Canada as an asylum seeker.
I have been asked to come to Canada to testify on Joshua’s behalf in January before the Canadian immigration courts as an expert witness on the subject of U.S. military law (I previously represented Robin Long, the first US soldier deported from Canada), but Joshua does not have the funds to pay my way up there.
I am asking Oklahomans to support one of our own by contributing to my travel expenses and time.
The Case of Daniel Sandate – a mentally ill US soldier facing a court-martial at Ft. Carson
I wanted to let everyone know about a case I am working on. The client will be pleading guilty to the charge of Desertion on Monday, November 17th at 1 p.m. at Ft. Carson, Colorado. I (along with an excellent attorney with the JAG’s trial defense services and local Colorado attorney Bill Durland) will be arguing to the court that Daniel Sandate should receive a lesser sentence due to his extreme mental health issues.
Daniel has asked me to share his story with the public. A longer version of this will be published at a later point, but this limited account is what Daniel has asked me to share at this time.
Daniel grew up with a horrific home life that is indescribable in nature, so understandably he grew up experiencing severe trauma and mental health issues. His adolescence and young adulthood were brutal but he hoped that joining the Army would give him a sense of purpose and a reason to live.
Sandate was a good soldier. He performed reasonably well in training and did ok in the Army until he deployed in Iraq. Like many soldiers, he was forced to see and participate in things that no human should ever have to go through. He came home from Iraq shook to the core and with a strong case of PTSD.
Daniel tried to get help from the Army but he was blown off, time and time again. His situation was quickly spiraling in a negative direction (he was very suicidal at this point, which was scary because he had tried to kill himself before even joining the Army), so when he met new friend online who lived in Canada, he thought it would be nice to take a break from the Army and hang out up there for awhile. He always wanted to come back at some point, but just needed a break and some time to recover his sanity.
However, while in Canada, Daniel was threatened severely by his old unit (he was even told by an NCO that he could be executed for going AWOL) so he ended up staying in Canada for several years.
While in Canada, he became very isolated and saw few people other than his girlfriend. When they broke up, things got really bad and he tried to kill himself. He was stopped (the police came after his downstairs neighbors reported blood dripping from their ceiling) and at first hospitalized and then later incarcerated. He was later released from jail but due to his suicidality he reported back to the police and told them he wanted to be deported to the US.
The Canadian authorities did take Daniel back into custody but wouldn’t release him due to their concerns over his safety, so Daniel called the US embassy and asked for their assistance. Daniel was then deported to the US, where he was immediately taken into custody and transported to Colorado. He has been sitting in the county jail in Colorado Springs ever since, and has been on suicide watch pretty much the whole time. Daniel is an intelligent, articulate man, but he is deeply troubled. Unfortunately the Army and the CJC (the county jail) have refused to give him the mental health care that he needs, so his mental health situation has declined.
For Daniel’s defense, I am raising funds to cover my expenses and those of Bill Durland’s (who has been invaluable to me as local counsel). At this point, we are short about $1000 of what is needed.