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'Mothers of the Fallen' say US Military not being held accountable

According to the CDC, between 1980 and 1993, the leading cause of death for active-duty service members is unintentional injury.

SAN DIEGO — Mothers of active-duty service men and women are joining forces demanding action and answers from the United States Military. 

The group "Mothers of the Fallen" want the military to be held accountable for the deaths of their sons and daughters while on active duty. 

Christiana Sweetwood is Lance Corporal Chase Sweetwood’s mom. Chase was one of nine Marines who drowned in an AAV training exercise July 30, 2020 off the coast of San Clemente. 

Christiana says after losing her son, what recruits and parents don't know, could stop them from even joining the military. 

"It's hard. It's a hard fight. There's a lot of grief. Push on. We do it for our boys. Every single day, I will fight," said Sweetwood.

Sweetwood and the other families filed a lawsuit against the maker of the AAV, but she says the U.S. Military should be held accountable as well. 

"I don't want to see one more boy or girl brought home in a casket with a flag draped over it, telling you that your child is a hero, when really they killed your child."

Manuel Gomez is the Black Ops private investigator helping Mothers of the Fallen. He served in the military for decades and now dedicates his life to holding them accountable. 

"If people knew that the Feres Doctrine exists, they would not join the military," said Gomez.

The Feres Doctrine prevents service men, women, and their families from collecting damages from the U.S. government for death or injuries while on duty. 

Gomez says, there are other cases that require more attention as well. 

"We're averaging about 250 murders on our bases nationwide. Fort Bragg has 43 unsolved murders right now and that's the home of Special Forces," said Gomez. 

According to the CDC, between 1980 and 1993, the leading cause of death for active-duty service members is unintentional injury.

Gomez says, our service men and women deserve better. 

"They are deliberately not pursuing the evidence on these cases and taking action because it affects recruitment and it affects the military," said Gomez.

Gloria Ortiz is Ronald Valentin's mom. Ronald was found dead under mysterious circumstances while he was on duty in Okinawa, Japan over Labor Day Weekend 2018. His case is still unsolved. 

"So, it's okay for you to kill our sons, our girls, our boys? No. Not as long as I'm still standing...it can't keep happening," said Ortiz. "They need to say the truth because I'm not going to stop fighting. We're not going to stop fighting,"

Meanwhile, these mothers and their families are left grieving with questions unanswered. 

"They support and protect our entire nation and we're letting them be killed and murdered on base? I can’t comprehend that,” Sweetwood said. 

Mothers of the Fallen have a Change.org petition. Their goal is to bring these issues before a congressional hearing. To take a look at their petition, click here.

Mothers of the Fallen say they understand there may be other families who may be involved in similar situations. They have a Facebook group for those interested. Click here if you'd like to check out their Facebook group.

CBS 8 reached out to the Department of Defense for comment on this story and haven’t heard back. 

CBS 8 also reached out to local congressmembers for comment as well. 

Sara Jacobs responded with the following statement: 

“As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I’ve made fighting on behalf of our military families a top priority. It’s clear that the Department of Defense has a lot of work to do to increase transparency and accountability, and to improve the safety of servicemembers on base – because accidents and other non-combat incidents have happened too often, including the tragic AAV accident at Camp Pendleton. The experience that many military families have gone through makes it clear that all the Services need to do more. Military readiness cannot come at the expense of protecting the individuals who choose to serve.”

WATCH RELATED: Families of service members who died in AAV accident announce lawsuit against the manufacturer (July 2021)

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