Purple Heart Marine treated 'shamelessly' by TSA as he tried to explain why roadside bomb injuries prevented him from raising his right arm for body scan
- Cpl. Nathan Kemnitz was awarded a Purple Heart after he almost died from an injury incurred from a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq
- At the Sacramento Airport, screeners looked under his medals, ran their hands under his waistband and swabbed his shoes for explosives
- Visiting the state capitol building to be honored as veteran of the year for his district, he was told to take off ihs dress blues 'because he was wearing too much metal'
By Ashley Collman
PUBLISHED: 21:06 EST, 8 July 2013 | UPDATED: 21:52 EST, 8 July 2013
Putting your life on the line for your country is apparently not enough to gain some slack in security lines.
Cpl. Nathan Kemnitz learned that lesson on a recent trip to Sacramento, California to receive an award as his district's veteran of the year.
At both the Sacramento International Airport and the California State Capitol Buildings, Kemnitz was subjected to overly thorough screenings from suspicious security workers.
Thorough: Cpl. Nathan Kemnitz's friend Patricia Martin took pictures of the tough security screenings the Purple Heart awarded Marine was subjected to
Kemnitz was awarded a Purple Heart after he almost died in 2004 from an injury incurred from a roadside bomb in Fallujah, Iraq. Because of that injury, he can't lift his right arm above his head.
Since that injury, getting through security lines has become increasingly difficult for the veteran.
'At some places I'm treated like royalty and at some like a terrorist. There's got to be something in the middle,' he said.
Two recent trips through the secuirty line landed closer to the 'terrorist' side of treatment. When a TSA officer asked him to raise his arms above his head in a full-body scanner, he refused.
Injured: Kemnitz was seriously injured in a roadside bomb while serving in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004
'My right arm doesn't work. It's a lot of hassle for me to do that,' Kemnitz told Military Times.
Screeners then continued to prod Kemnitz, looking under his metals, running their hands under his waistband and swabbing his shoes for explosives.
His traveling partner, Patricia Martin, found the whole incident disturbing, and took pictures of the humiliating screening.
'What does the uniform and heroism represent if our own citizens - in this case employees of the TSA and security personnel - have no regard for them?' Martin wrote to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki about the incident.
TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein issued a statement Monday concerning the incident.
'Our intent is to treat all injured service members and veterans with the dignity they deserve, As always, all passengers with disabilities and medical conditions are eligible for screening procedures sensitive to their particular disability, medical condition or other unique medical circumstance.
'Transportation Security Officers have to resolve any anomaly detected at the checkpoint,' Feinstein said. 'As is standard procedure for all passengers, if travelers alarm when passing through a metal detector or an advanced imaging technology (AIT) unit, additional screening is required in order to resolve that anomaly.'
Following similar incidents with other wounded veterans, the TSA recently changed it's rules so injured troops no longer need to remove their shoes, jackets or hats in security.
They also offer an expedited service, but you must call the agencies Military Severely Injured Joint Service Operations Center prior to traveling.
There is also a 'curb-to-gate' service for injured personnel and well as a pre-check program for military personnel at four airports.
Kemnitz wasn't so bothered by the TSA screening as he was by the 'rude' and 'unapologetic' security screener at the California state capitol.
Recognized: Kemnitz at a state capitol award ceremony where he was honored as his district's veteran of the year. Before the luncheon he was told to take off his dress blues at security 'because he was wearing too much metal'
He was visiting the capitol as a veteran being honored in his district, but the Senate Sergent-At-Arms screening him didn't cut him any slack when the metal detector went off.
The screener asked him to take off his dress blue blouse 'because he was wearing too much metal.' That started an argument between Kemnitz, Martin and the security screener.
Representatives at the California state capitol have yet to release a statement about the incident.
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