Former Marine Sgt. Adam Kokesh, a veteran of the Iraq war who is now an antiwar activist, faces a hearing in Kansas City, Mo., on Monday at which a panel will determine whether to downgrade his discharge status from "honorable" to "other than honorable." Those two words can have serious consequences, hampering chances for educational benefits and future employment, especially with jobs that require a security clearance. Fortunately for Kokesh, he has just picked up a big defender -- Veterans of Foreign Wars, which is, with 2.4 million members, the country's largest combat veterans organization.
VFW commander Gary Kurpius tells the Associated Press that "someone in the Marine Corps needs to exercise a little common sense and put an end to this matter before it turns into a circus ... These Marines went to war, did their duty, and were honorably discharged from the active roles. I may disagree with their message, but I will always defend their right to say it."
Kokesh is facing the hearing because he wore a military uniform without insignia during an antiwar march in Washington, D.C., which could, according to the Associated Press, violate a rule prohibiting troops from wearing uniforms without authorization, and because he allegedly made a disrespectful comment to the officer investigating him.
Kokesh also gained a little notoriety earlier this year when he kept a running count of each use of the phrase "I don't recall" by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during Gonzales' testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.