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US Atty Biskupic and VA Defied US Law to Convict Wisconsin Veteran

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by Michael Leon via MAL Contends

Madison, Wisconsin—In this Karl Rove/Dick Cheney age of politics when the governmental machinery is so politicized that Richard Nixon seems a progressive reformist by comparison, it’s not surprising to find the United States Department of Justice ravaging a Vietnam-era veteran diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

But many veterans charge the peculiar case of US v. Roberts is a disgraceful miscarriage of justice even by the contemporary swift-boating standards of the Bush administration.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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In June of 1999, Airman Keith Roberts (1968-71) was granted a disability rating by the US Veterans Administration (VA) after a 12-year, excruciating benefits claim process to which the honorably discharged American veteran from the northern town of Gillett, Wisconsin was subjected.

Roberts had been diagnosed with (PTSD) years after he witnessed a fellow airman killed in a gruesome C-54 aircraft crushing death of fellow Airman Gary Holland in 1969 while on “line duty” at a Naval Air Facility in Naples, Italy, and later in the same year was assaulted by the Navy Shore Patrol and forcefully hospitalized.

Roberts believed that negligence caused Holland’s death and that the Navy then covered it up, blaming the dead rookie Holland who could not defend himself.

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The Vietnam-era veteran had no idea while he was gathering evidence seeking an earlier retroactive date for his successful VA claim, per the advice of a Shawano (Wisconsin) Veteran’s Service Officer, and jumping through hoop after hoop, that not only were his existing VA benefits in jeopardy but his very liberty was in danger.

“The process of gathering evidence to prove PTSD disability is extremely time-consuming,” said Sen. Barrack Obama (D-IL) on August 10, 2005 at a time when the VA was set to review 72,000 PTSD cases, but backed down under intense pressure from veterans and democrats. “It requires the compilation of medical records, military service records, and testimonies from other veterans who can attest to a person’s combat exposure.”

In fact, the VA claims process is not just time-consuming, but can be so frustrating that many vets quit the process, or (especially those suffering from PTSD) are thrown into fits of rage directed at the VA itself.

Anger is a euphemism for how Keith Roberts now feels about the VA.

Since March of this year, Roberts has been serving a 48-month sentence (and his family financially shattered) for alleged wire fraud purportedly committed in his benefits application process with the VA in an outlandish VA-benefits-turned-criminal-charges case now before the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Seventh Circuit (appellate brief due June 29) which Roberts vows to take to the US Supreme Court, if necessary.

Among the main charges against Roberts are that he fabricated his role in trying to rescue Holland and lied about his friendship with Holland, both charges demonstrably untrue.

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Frustration with the VA

Anger, panic and frustration with the VA drove Keith Roberts to phone the VA Inspector General’s office at Hines, Illinois in November 2003 at which time Roberts spoke with one Special Agent Raymond Vasil.

Roberts accused the VA of “fraud” as the VA was in the process of determining the date from which his retroactive disability pay was to become effective. Adjustments and frequent remanding (sending back for reconsideration) of cases are common VA practice.

It’s not hyperbole to say that many veterans have died awaiting appeal of their cases.

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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 maleon64@yahoo.com.

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