Organizers of Mesa’s beleaguered Veterans Day Parade have another problem — whether to keep former City Council candidate JT Ready on their parade committee after learning that the ex-Marine was court-martialed twice and then discharged for bad conduct.
Veterans made headlines recently when they raised enough money to save the parade after its funding was slashed from the city’s budget. They are scrambling to plan the parade in time for Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
Ready has been attending their meetings and volunteered to help emcee the parade from the stand.
But the Tribune, in checking with the U.S. Marine Corps, found Ready had been charged and convicted in a military court of theft, unauthorized absence, failure to follow orders and, later, assault, among other things. He received a bad conduct discharge in 1996.
But Ready never told the veterans’ organizations of his record. And he never disclosed those details of his military background during his political campaigns.
The record is severe enough to prevent 33-year-old Ready from ever taking advantage of the GI Bill, being buried in a national cemetery or even joining the local Marine Corps League.
Ready also could risk losing his membership with the VFW Auxiliary, where he’s been a member for roughly two years.
Now, the parade organizers are considering whether to keep him involved.
“We are very surprised and upset that JT has got this kind of record,” said VFW Post 1760 commander Randy Foshee.
“The members of our post will take it under advisement to see if he needs to be removed, and at the Veterans Day parade meeting (on Friday), we’ll discuss if we also need to have him on the parade committee.”
Ready did not return three phone calls or an e-mail on Wednesday.
In 1996, Ready, then a lance corporal and rifleman with the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion at Camp Pendleton, Calif., was tried at a special courtmartial where he was found guilty of unauthorized absence, failure to follow an order or regulation, and larceny and wrongful appropriation, according to 1st Lt. Rob Dolan, a Marine Corps. spokesman in Quantico, Va.
Dolan said Ready was absent without authorization for eight days.
He served three months in confinement, forfeited $581 per month in pay for three months and was demoted to private.
Later that year, he was brought up on even more serious charges — conspiracy, assault and wrongful solicitation and advice.
He was found guilty at a general court-martial, served six months in confinement and received a bad conduct discharge.
Ready, who lost a District 4 council race in March, is a member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and says he founded several anti-illegal immigration groups.
He also made headlines after an encounter with a Mexican illegal immigrant earlier this year in Mesa.
Ready was never charged in the shootout.
He also ran unsuccessfully as state representative in 2004.
The veterans parade committee will meet 1 p.m. Friday on the first floor of City Hall.
Some seem more forgiving about Ready’s record and would not go so far as to say that Ready should be removed from the parade committee.
“I don’t think there is any such thing as a perfect human being,” veteran Jerry Walker said.