Decorated Arab-American vet says he was discriminated against

He holds the highest ranking member of our military to be born in Iraq. But despite his service, including two tours in his home nation, he says he was discriminated by the Michigan Army National Guard.

- He holds the highest ranking member of our military to be born in Iraq. But despite his service, including two tours in his home nation, he says he was discriminated by the Michigan Army National Guard.

As a member, Lt. Col. Jason Awadi says he has put his life on the line for the country he loves, but he believes his efforts are not valued.

"There's no doubt about it, he said. "It's a slap in face it's frustrating."

He says he was denied a promotion as Director of Communications because he is an Arab-American while less qualified people moved up the ranks. 

"I was nominated and then I was undercut by Major General Vadnais." he said.

The Arab American Civil Rights League is helping Awadi take up the fight and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on his behalf.

"The Arab American Civil Rights League is calling for a full investigation of Lt. Col. Awadi's complaints (which) we take very seriously," said attorney Nabih Ayad of the Arab-American Civil Rights League.

Awadi says he has served with the guard since 1995 and has been full-time since 2002.

He says during this time there has been a pattern of discrimination against minorities in the guard since Major General Gregory Vadnais came on board.

He serves as Director of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and Adjutant General for the Michigan Guard. 

"The facts don't lie," said Ayad. "We've had 11 complaints and those are the ones that made it to EEOC and they are legitimate complaints all by minorities against one man Major General Vadnais." 

In a statement a spokesperson from The Michigan National Guard tells Fox 2:

"The Michigan National Guard takes pride in being a diverse organization and that pride is evidenced by our presence in 43 communities around Michigan and an established history of having minorities in leadership positions."

But Awadi is not convinced and hopes his complaint is fully and fairly investigated, not just for his military career - but others like him.

Still Awadi admits his future military career could be on shaky ground

"I could be blacklisted, there could be retribution," he said.
 


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