Westerman Announces State of the Union Guest
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Bruce Westerman announced that his guest for this year’s State of the Union Address will be Brittany Alkonis. He released the following statement:
“I am pleased that Mrs. Brittany Alkonis will be joining me for this historic occasion. Brittany is the wife of U.S. Navy Lieutenant Ridge Alkonis, who has been unnecessarily imprisoned by the Japanese government,” Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-04) said. “Brittany’s relentless fight for justice for Ridge has caught my attention and that of many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress and has rallied a great deal of bipartisan support for the Alkonis family. I am humbled by the opportunity to welcome Brittany to the U.S. Capitol, and to hear her and her family’s story firsthand. It is my hope that Brittany’s presence at the State of the Union will be a step forward the fight for justice for Ridge and will emphasize the need for the Biden Administration’s support in this fight to bring Ridge home.”
Lt. Alkonis is originally from California and is a constituent of Congressman Mike Levin. Congressmen Bruce Westerman and Mike Levin are a part of the great number of Members of Congress who have joined the bipartisan fight to advocate for Lt. Alkonis’s release from prison.
“Rep. Westerman and I remain deeply concerned about the ongoing treatment of Ridge Alkonis and the delays in his transfer to the United States.” Rep. Mike Levin (CA-49) said. We want to see him come home as quickly as possible. I thank Rep. Westerman for inviting Brittany Alkonis to the State of the Union. Her presence will shine a light on this case and the impact it is having on her family and their communities. Her resilience throughout this difficult situation is remarkable. I continue to urge the U.S. and Japanese governments to work expeditiously on an agreement that will bring Ridge back home safely. Along with Rep. Westerman and other Members of Congress, I will continue to advocate on Ridge’s behalf until he is back on U.S. soil.”
U.S. Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis is originally from California and is the husband of Brittany Alkonis; they have three children together. In 2006, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy where he was a pitcher for the Midshipmen baseball team. From 2008-2010, he served on a church mission in Japan, where he gained great love and respect for the Country. In 2012, he moved to Japan with his wife to serve on the U.S.S. Fitzgerald, stationed in Yokosuka, Japan.
In May 2021, Lt. Alkonis was driving to his home in Japan, with his wife and three children after a hike on Mount Fuji. While driving, he experienced a horrible case of altitude sickness that caused him to lose consciousness at the wheel, leading to an accidental car crash which left two Japanese citizens dead.
On the scene, Japanese officials neglected to provide Lt. Alkonis with medical care and immediately took him to jail, where he stayed in solitary confinement for 26 days without access to representation, counseling, medical examination, or adequate language translation. On June 23, 2021, he was released on bail.
In October 2021, Lt. Alkonis was sentenced to 3 years and immediately sent to prison. This, despite his family’s commitment to pay the largest private gomensai settlement by a U.S. Service member in Japan’s history, of $1.65 million. Lt. Alkonis filed for an appeal and was released on bail.
In July 2022, the Japanese Appellate court rejected Lt. Alkonis’ appeal and sent him to prison to serve his three-year prison sentence.
Brittany and many others across the country are fighting relentlessly for justice for Lt. Alkonis. For more information about Brittany and Lt. Alkonis’s story, click here.