- via MAL Contends
Madison, Wisconsin—An official Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) document contradicts the U.S. prosecutor’s narrative of alleged events that led to the conviction of a Wisconsin Vietnam-era veteran on federal wire fraud charges in 2006.
The document, a VA “Statement in Support of Claim,” written by the late Jim Henning, a Shawano County (Wisconsin) Veteran’s Service Officer, argues for an earlier retroactive date for disability benefits for Airman Keith Roberts (1968-74), who was diagnosed by several medical professionals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after witnessing a fellow airman being crushed to death in the wheel well of a C-54 airplane at a U.S. base in Naples, Italy in 1969.
Henning was known as a passionate and highly ethical advocate for veterans.
The document is key because the prosecuting attorney, Timothy Funnell of the US Eastern District of Wisconsin, has repeatedly portrayed Roberts as engaging in a “scheme” to “fraudulently” obtain VA benefits motivated by greed.
“Mr. Roberts would in all likelihood be sitting in Oconto County receiving his monthly compensation benefit check if he had not, because of his own greed, sought this large retroactive payment, “said Funnell on a Wisconsin Public Radio news segment. (Vietnam vet calls fraud charges by VA illegal, 05/10/07, Listen to this story now using RealPlayer)
The document (dated March 15, 2002) supports Roberts’ narrative that he did not concoct a “scheme” to seek an earlier retroactive date, but rather sought an earlier date at Hennings’ suggestion.
“Keith Roberts did not seek out an earlier effective date on his own. Mr. Jim Henning, (now deceased) Shawano County Veteran's Service Officer, reviewed Keith’s claims folder and determined that Keith was entitled to an earlier effective date. Mr. Henning was the person that wrote the March 2002 Statement in Support of (C)laim for Keith. … (T)he statement gave (the) VA an opportunity to pick any date listed as the earlier effective date,” reads an e-mail from Roberts’ wife, Deloris.
Henning’s letter (signed by Roberts, but in Henning’s handwriting, as verified by other obtained handwritten correspondence by Henning written on August 14, 2002 on an unrelated matter) supports reopening Roberts’ case for both an earlier retroactive date and an increase from 50 percent to 100 percent disability benefits.
Henning’s handwritten VA statement (which includes Henning’s listing of an incorrect Social Security Number of Roberts’) reads in part:
”The records indicate the the (sic) veteran filed a statement of case in an appeal dated December 22, 1993 which shows a complaint dating back to 12/13/69. A letter from the VA dated Nay 29, 1998 assigned a 50% rating for PTSD, It would appear that a 50% rating would be more appropriately assigned earlier effect (illegible word) 1989. (Based on the Bay Claims report mentioned above.).”
The Bay Claims reference is to a letter of November 1, 1989 which includes progress notes and diagnoses from Dr. Kenneth L. Kliese, M.D. of the Bay Psychiatric Clinic, Green Bay, WI.
Dr. Kliese is among several doctors who diagnosed Roberts with a multitude of psychiatric disorders and symptoms relating to PTSD.