(WTRF) — A representative from Arizona has requested that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) strip benefits from any service member and veteran who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a Monday report from Business Insider.
Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, of Arizona, a Marine Corps veteran, wrote in a letter last Thursday that those veterans and service members “simply don’t deserve” the VA benefits.
Gallego cited reporting that suggests “nearly 20% of the insurrectionists were either veterans or military retirees.” According to an NPR analysis in January, nearly 1 in 5 people charged in the riot appear to have served in the military.
“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,” Gallego wrote. “Yet, many of the veterans and servicemembers who attacked their own Government actively and enthusiastically enjoy special benefits given to them by their fellow citizens.”
Federal prosecutors have charged more than 300 people in the attack.
Gallego requested in his letter that VA Secretary Denis McDonough work with Attorney General Merrick Garland to identify the riot participants, citing U.S. Code regarding benefits for veterans and their dependents.
He wrote that based on the code, he is “confident that you will find ‘satisfactory’ evidence” to justify the withdrawal of benefits.
Such benefits include, but are not limited to, access to health care and disability compensation.
Five people died during the Jan. 6 riot, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot as she tried to climb through a smashed window into the House chamber with lawmakers still inside.