Respecting Veterans More than a Car Sticker

Tuesday, November 11 is Veterans Day.

But the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA), charged with providing patient care and delivering veterans' benefits, has become a malfunctioning governmental agency.

Worse, the VA has become—through its policy of knocking down large financial rewards for injured veterans—a rogue agency illegally inventing a "review scheme (that) is punitive, discriminatory, confiscatory and contrary to the veterans' benefits system established by Congress," and literally shredding the service records of our veterans.

And even worse, it has jailed an honorably discharged and innocent Wisconsin Navy veteran through the tender hands of U.S. Atty Stephen Biskupic, infamous for the the proven-innocent Georgia Thompson prosecution and pursuit of Wisconsin voters.

Many look to President-elect Obama to make things right.

Roberts was convicted of five counts of wire fraud for receiving VA disability funds stemming from his diagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to a Navy friend, Gary Holland, being crushed to death during the Vietnam War combat era.

U.S. Atty Biskupic's office had convinced a jury that Roberts and the deceased Navy airman (Holland) did not have a friendship and that Roberts, who was on line duty at a Naval base in Naples, Italy on February 5, 1969 at the time that Holland was crushed to death by a C-54 aircraft, exaggerated his efforts to save Holland, which constituted fraud for which Roberts was convicted in November 2006 by a jury in northern Wisconsin.

Roberts has been serving a four-year sentence since March 2007.
 
The prosecution and conviction remain at best highly controversial and a three-member panel for the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in July found that, "The record might also have supported a jury determination that Mr. Roberts sincerely believed that his statements were true and that he had no intention to defraud the Government ... (but) (i)t is beyond our authority to disturb (a guilty) finding on appeal (in this case)."
 
Indeed the two men had parallel careers at several military bases that would make highly unlikely that Holland and Roberts were not at least friendly, though not friendly enough for the VA and the US DoJ that pursued the case over two years.

The hurdle for an appellate court to overturn the judgement of a jury is high, but the criminal case remains under appeal and the benefits case was recently argued at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), (Roberts v. Secretary of the VA (05-2425)).
 
Roberts awaits a decision on both cases at he continues serving a four-year sentence for serving his country.
 
Those wishing to write Roberts can reach him at:
 
Keith Roberts, 07827-089
FCI Englewood,
East-Upper FCI 9595
West Quincy Avenue
Littleton, CO 80123
 

 

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How killing scars soldiers—and their loved ones.

In the spring of 2002, an Army major named Peter Kilner submitted an unusual essay to Military Review, a journal published by the Combined Arms Center in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Kilner argued that combat leaders have an obligation to justify the killing their soldiers do. "Soldiers who kill reflexively in combat will likely one day reconsider their actions reflectively," he wrote. "If they are unable to justify to themselves that they killed another human being, they will likely, and understandably, suffer enormous guilt" that could balloon into post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd). Top brass who ignored the issue, he concluded, were "treating their soldiers as commodities, not as persons."

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

Jim, I just had a Navy medic tell me that it was important to get guys diagnosed with PTSD, medicated and back into theater fast because if they watched and waited to monitor the stress reaction, they might lose their "asset" and they needed them back in action.  It was clear that the protocol was to medicate them pretty damn quick.To get them back to work, not to treat the injury to prevent further harm.

  It occurred to me like a bolt out of the blue that Norma Perez, the VA supervisor who was advocating for a provisional diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder rule out PTSD had to be smacked down by the VA itself--because she was setting a precedent for treatment in the field.  In other words, if the protocol became "watch and wait" to see if PTSD actually developed, then they LOST THEIR ASSET because the meds prescribed are NOT indicated for Adjustment Disorder.And without the meds they cannot get back into battle because they are too disabled by the stress reaction.  So you hit it spot on to say that they are treated as "commodities" in battle.  I have not been in battle so my opinion holds little weight about the necessity for this approach but it sure seems right cold and blackhearted. With long term ramifications for every one of us in America.

I have been in intensive training to treat Traumatic Brain Injury and I have the sick feeling that this is also being purposely underdiagnosed.  I personally know of a soldier who has been redeployed since his Humvee blew up under him and he still has not been diagnosed with concussive injury--even though he shows all the signs and symptoms. 

The public health and criminal justice systems implications of this are HUGE.  Many of our wounded warriors are "Citizen Soldiers" aka National Guard and Reservists who deploy, then return to their jobs in our towns and cities as medics, first responders, police officers, sheriff's deputies, fire fighters.  Picture an officer with an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury and raging PTSD driving around your town with a loaded gun on the seat next to him. COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU.  God bless every one of them for their sacrifices and God help them get the treatment they need.  To all the civilians out there in the Tubes--this is not a Scarlett O'Hara moment, a crisis you can defer until tomorrow.  It is here in America, right in your town too, right now.