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VA Source Blasts Jailed Wisc Vet Case, Alleges VA Retaliation

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Madison, Wisconsin—A source who works at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee contacted the Madison-based Lee Rayburn radio show after a broadcast on jailed Vietnam-era veteran, Keith Roberts, and blasted the US Atty’s prosecution of Roberts.

Roberts, of Gillett, Wisconsin, has been serving a 48-month sentence since March.

Roberts was investigated and indicted in 2004-2005 after he repeatedly contacted the regional VA in Milwaukee and VA Inspector General's office in Chicago (after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)) and accused the VA of fraud, seeking an earlier retroactive date for his disability benefits, per the advice of the late Jim Henning, a Shawano County (Wisconsin) Veteran’s Service Officer.

The VA susbsequently turned the tables on Roberts (though VA personnel misrepresented their investigation to Roberts at the time) and charged Roberts with fraud after Roberts apparently angered some in the government agency with his accusations—accusations not uncommon among veterans (especially Vietnam-era veterans) who have the deck stacked against them in seeking PTSD disability benefits.

“I'd have to say that you guys are TOTALLY right about Roberts' conviction being bullshit,” reads the e-mail in part.

The e-mail’s author’s name is being withheld because of concerns about retaliation against the author and the political sensitivity of the prosecution within the VA.

Roberts’ PTSD was caused, in part, by his witnessing the crushing to death of his fellow Airman Gary Holland by a C-54 aircraft at a U.S. base in Naples, Italy on Feb. 4, 1969.

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The e-mail also reads:

I need to say that I cannot speak on behalf of the VA. You can talk about what I tell you in this email, but please don't use my name. I could not locate anyone who wanted to speak for the VA either.

Keith Roberts was NEVER going to get paid back to his date of discharge. That is not the way VA works. You can only get compensation back to the original date of claim for that disability. You can get compensation from date of discharge only if you file a claim within a year of that happening, in which case you would automatically get a free exam.

We are told to never prosecute fraud. If someone is defrauding us, we just deny the claim.

Keith Roberts was granted a 100% compensation rate for PTSD from his date of claim. To grant PTSD, we need both a) a current diagnosis and b) a verified in-service stressor. We found not only a stressor, but an in-service diagnosis for Airman Roberts (emphasis mine).
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[Others at the VA] said the only reason Airman Roberts was ever prosecuted was because he was a ‘belligerent ass’ who kept insisting that he get paid back to discharge. He was demanding an appeal in Washington.

The justice department caught wind of him (I don't know about this specifically - it didn't happen here). They launched an investigation and talked to people who were in the hangar, all of whom said Airman Roberts was not present for the incident at hand.

If Airman Roberts had taken his 100% and been happy with it, he would never have ended up like this because we try to give a benefit if at all possible. We do not look for ways to deny - it makes life much easier on us if we just pay the money.

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Michael Leon is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His writing has appeared nationally in The Progressive, In These Times, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at

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