May 2, 2007

Vet Imprisoned for Seeking Benefits

Navy Airman, Keith Roberts (1970)
Update: Anyone needing further information on this justice-still-denied case, contact attorney Bob Walsh.

Update: In a unanimous July 2008 opinion (07-1546) a three-member panel for the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the controversial conviction on wire fraud of Wisconsin Navy veteran, Keith Roberts.

Reads the opinion in part: "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," reads the opinion by Justice Kenneth Ripple. But Ripple notes of the guilty verdict, that, "It is beyond our authority to disturb such a finding on appeal."

Since the Roberts' indictment by the Bush-Cheney's DoJ, the VA's PTSD rules have been revised (in July 2010) under President Obama's administration in such a manner that targeting Roberts would have been virtually impossible, even by a corrupt U.S. Attorney.

At present, this injustice remains. One honorably discharged, innocent Navy airman from northern Wisconsin saw his service to his country repaid with $100,000s in fines and almost four years in federal prison.

Update: See also Scott Horton's analysis at Harper's Magazine.

By Michael Leon

Madison, Wisconsin—Since March 2007, Airman Keith Roberts has been imprisoned, serving the first few months of a four-year sentence for five counts of federal wire fraud.

Keith Roberts filed for disability benefits in 1999 after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by private and public medical health professionals.

Though not nearly as horrific as many, Roberts’ Vietnam-era service (1968-74) affected him badly, and includes an incident in which he was assaulted by the Navy Shore Patrol in 1969, and he witnessed a fellow airman killed in a gruesome aircraft accident, also in 1969, at Naples, Italy where he was stationed.

Roberts jumped through all of the hoops that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) makes claimants jump through, and was granted service-connected benefits for his diagnosed PTSD in 1999 retroactive to 1993 (later revised to1992), and received over $300,000 in benefits.

Roberts and his wife believed that after a paperwork-endurance ordeal in finding all supporting documents that the VA had finally come through and honored his service, and affirmed his medical condition after the long benefits application process.

The VA

As a Marine Corp Times piece notes of the benefits process (Kelly Kennedy, April 5, 2007), “’The … disability retirement system stacks the deck against injured soldiers by forcing them to prove they have post-traumatic stress disorder …,’ said an Army lawyer who helps soldiers appeal their claims.”

Worse than a stacked deck, the VA was headed (and still is) by Jim Nicholson, former Republican National Committee Chair (1997-2000) who sports a resume devoid of experience in veterans' advocacy and seems openly hostile to disability compensation, an appearance Nicholson tries to deflect in public statements.

"The amount of dollars involved (in veteran compensation) is huge and the lives involved are important," Nicholson said. "Our number one goal is to take care of those veterans who are deserving," referring to a 2005 VA Inspector General’s report on veterans’ compensation.

As Keith Roberts was battling the VA, he had no idea that a confluence of political and bureaucratic forces allied with Secretary Nicholson were about to make his previous ordeal seem a walk in the park by comparison.

Roberts collided with the US government’s determination to deceive and treat this veteran like a criminal.

VA Turns Against Roberts
Roberts’ wife, Deloris, said her family is “devastated.”

But they maintain reams of paper documents which appear to sustain their narrative of events in which a vet became a victim of a hostile bureaucracy and an overzealous prosecutor.

In November of 2003, Roberts said he contacted the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) in Illinois by phone, complaining that Roberts had come to believe that the VA was committing fraud in the handling of his benefits claims, according to Roberts’ sworn deposition.

The reason behind Roberts’ call to the VA is not clear, but he had reportedly become somewhat paranoid, a symptom associated with PTSD.

Roberts spoke to Special Agent Raymond Vasil at the VA OIG who assured Roberts that Vasil would look into the alleged fraud, according to the sworn deposition. Roberts took Vasil’s assurance at face value.

Accusing the VA of committing fraud turned out to be a bad move for Roberts’ navigation through the VA bureaucracy, which a veteran’s advocate called a “culture of denial of veterans’ claims, where denying claims gets bureaucrats promoted.”

The veteran’s advocate spoke on background, out of concern for the political sensitivity of the topic.

After his phone conversation with Roberts, Special Agent Vasil and his assistant Joe Cossairt seized Roberts’ VA claims file from the regional VA office in Milwaukee, according to a document in Roberts’ VA file dated Dec. 12, 2003.
On March 27, 2004 Special Agent Vasil and Cossairt met with Roberts at his home in Gillett, (Oconto County), Wisconsin, according to Roberts’ affidavit, and asked a string of questions that made it clear to Roberts the focus of their questions pertained to the 1969 aircraft accident at Naples, and not the alleged VA fraud.

The VA’s Vasil reportedly insisted on a subsequent May 31, 2004 interview to be conducted at the Oconto County Sheriff’s office.

At the May 31, 2004 interview, according to Roberts’ deposition, Vasil became immediately abusive to Roberts by making a snide remark that “they brought all their paperwork,” after Roberts had carried in his large file and supporting evidence.

At the meeting, Vasil asserted that Roberts’ 1969 hospitalization after his Shore Patrol incidence was not a valid stressor for the purpose of diagnosing PTSD, though Vasil has no formal authority to issue such a determination, and Roberts had already been diagnosed by medical professionals on this very point.
Vasil called Roberts “nothing but a drunk,” and reportedly, said the documents Roberts had in possession (a Feb. 6, 1969, “Special Enlisted Personnel Performance Evaluation” pertaining to the death of his fellow airman on Feb. 4, 1969 and consistent with Roberts’ said role at the scene) meant “nothing” to Vasil.

Subsequently, after several months of complex machinations through the VA bureaucracy, Roberts’ benefits were severed in November 2004.

While Roberts was appealing the decision through the VA channels and was set to appeal to the VA Appeals Court—the US Court of Appeals for Veteran’s Claims in Washington D.C.—empowered by federal statute to hear the case, the United States Department of Justice, in the office of the US Atty for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Steven Biskupic, indicted Roberts in April 2005 on six counts of mail fraud.

In September 2005, a superseding indictment changed the charges to five counts of wire fraud.

No investigative agent from the Treasury Department, Secret Service or FBI investigated the allegations of federal mail or wire fraud against Roberts.

Only the VA’s Special Agent Vasil conducted an investigation. Though his position title is “special agent,” Vasil has no formal law enforcement training or benefit adjudication experience.

Said one hostile veteran advocate, “A cop Vasil is not, just an idiot with a badge.”

In one exchange from Vasil’s Grand Jury testimony indicating his knowledge of the VA benefits process, upon which the indictment is predicated, Vasil appears weak on his familiarity with VA processes:

Question: “Is that part of your training that you have to know the basics of how these programs work?”

Vasil’s Answer: “Yeah. I was briefly kind of instructed when I was hired, and then just while working for them, you have to learn it to investigate the cases.”

But Biskupic’s office took Roberts to trial, secured a conviction, and this Vietnam-era veteran has been locked up since March.

According to Deloris Roberts, at the trial Roberts’ attorney was both unable and apparently disinclined to present any of the exculpatory evidence in Roberts’ files to prove his innocence, legal representation that has been criticized by those working with Roberts now.

Biskupic’s office says that Roberts “fabricated” his version of events pertaining to the death of his fellow airman.

Why US Atty Biskupic?
A phone call to the press offices of the US Atty for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on this story was unreturned.

US Atty Biskupic has recently taken heavy criticism for stretching federal statues to bring federal prosecutions in public corruption cases (one already infamous case tossed out of an appellate court in April and described as composed of evidence that is “beyond thin”) and voter fraud cases (similarly criticized by observers).

With the extraordinary federal indictment and trial of Roberts while the VA issue of Roberts’ alleged “fraud” was and is still pending administrative action before the VA, and as of August 30, 2005 pending adjudicative action before the US Court of Appeals for Veteran’s Claims in D.C. (which has exclusive jurisdiction over VA claims, per United States Code), Biskupic appears to be responding to the Bush administration’s hostility to PTSD claims.

In other words, Congress gave the responsibility for the adjudication of VA claims to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, not the Attorney General of the United States.

In its press release noting the sentencing of Roberts, Biskupic’s office quotes John W. Brooks, the Special Agent-in-Charge at the VA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in Chicago. “The VA Office of the Inspector General is mindful that fraudulent claims which take money from deserving veterans cannot be tolerated. …,“ said Brooks, sounding a lot like VA Secretary Nicholson and one American Enterprise Institute scholar, Dr. Sally Satel

Rightwing Health Care

In the administration where rightwing think tanks supply the intellectual essence for such government policy as health care and the Iraq war, the veterans’ benefits bureaucracy also apparently takes its cue from the right.

That is one Sally Satel, a rightwing psychiatrist and resident scholar at the Bush-friendly American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Dr. Satel bemoans the rising veterans’ benefits costs associated with PTSD and what she derides as a culture of trauma and therapy.

In a New York Times op ed piece (March 1, 2006) representative of her work on the topic, Satel notes that the VA is now paying compensation for PTSD at an annual cost of $4.3 billion, a figure expected to rise.

This figure, $4.3 billion, is equal to the cost of our occupying Iraq for approximately 16 days, according to the National Priorities Project.

Heightened awareness has led to more veterans seeking care and benefits from the VA, much to the consternation of Dr, Satel and the Bush administration who appear to retain a special animus for Vietnam-era vets seeking benefits:

“(I)t's … very likely that some of the veteran baby boomers who have filed claims in recent years did so not out of medical need but out of a desire for financial security in their retirement years. Indeed, 40 percent of last year's claimants had been out of the military for 35 to 49 years.”In any case, the rush of applications for long-term disability entitlements reflects the extent to which the culture of the Department of Veterans Affairs since Vietnam has become fixated on post-traumatic stress disorder.

“ … Only in rare instances should veterans be eligible for lifetime disability; and perhaps there should be a deadline of years after service by which claims must be submitted.”

“The inspector general's office found that for one-quarter of Vietnam veterans claiming post-traumatic stress, the department could not confirm any incidents of traumatic stress. A study in a leading psychiatric journal last year could not verify such history in 59 percent.

“ ... With a new generation of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Veterans Affairs Department needs to look at post-traumatic stress disorder in a new way: the department must regard it as an acute but treatable condition. Only in rare instances should veterans be eligible for lifetime disability; and perhaps there should be a deadline of years after service by which claims must be submitted.
- Dr. Sally Satel, New York Times op ed (March 1, 2006)

And sneering in the Wall Street Journal (May 2, 2003), Dr. Satel writes:

- “At first PTSD could be diagnosed only in the context of mortal threats. Gradually, however, trauma was defined downward. By the time the manual was updated in 1994, one could qualify for PTSD simply by learning of the death of a loved one or watching the 9/11 terrorist attacks on television.”
Satel also writes in the Weekly Standard and is widely quoted in the mainstream media, and has been published widely including her books One Nation Under Therapy and PC, M.D. How Political Correctness is Corrupting Medicine.

Keith Roberts’ battle with the VA could not have been timed worse for him.

But veterans’ groups have also elevated their criticism of the VA’s treatment of PTSD-related benefits process.

“So the brave men and women who have served in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq are honest enough to put themselves in danger in the defense of the United States, yet their sworn personal hearing testimony concerning the stressors they experienced in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq is not. Something is seriously wrong here,” writes the Paralyzed Veterans of America in their Service Officers Appeals Report (SOAR, 2004, Volume 8, Number 4).

But the AEI’s Dr. Satel’s ethos on disability benefits has permeated the VA under Nicholson.

In August 2005, the VA announced plans to review 72,000 PTSD cases with a 100 percent disability rating like Roberts’.

But a torrent of criticism by veterans’ groups and Democrats forced the administration to back down.

On August 10, 2005 Sen. Barrack Obama (D-IL) blasted the administration in a letter to VA Secretary Nicholson.

“In order to truly create fairness in the claims system, the VA should concentrate its efforts on reviewing denials of PTSD claims,” said Obama. “Without accessing why some PTSD claims are denied, it will be impossible to fully understand how the VA’s PTSD rating system can be improved.

“The process of gathering evidence to prove PTSD disability is extremely time-consuming,” said Obama. “It requires the compilation of medical records, military service records, and testimonies from other veterans who can attest to a person’s combat exposure. I cannot fathom why the VA would require veterans to go through this emotionally painful process a second time.”

Said Deloris Roberts, “The process itself took a huge toll on us. But to get arrested and imprisoned?”

The politics of the VA going after 72,000 veterans became too hot to handle for the VA in 2005.

But by then, Roberts had already been indicted several months earlier.

On Nov. 10, 2005, the VA announced that there would “no across-the-board review of PTSD cases.”

Just days later, Cheryl Reed of the Chicago Sun Times, broke a story detailing how the VA planned to implement a PTSD restructuring anyway, despite its announcement six days earlier.

The new PTSD plan was released in a low, low-profile manner in a press release through Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), then Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The release states that:

“The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that it has contracted with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on a two-pronged approach to the examination of PTSD.”

And a fact sheet notes: “(The IOM) … will review the utility and objectiveness of the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM- IV), and will comment on the validity of current screening instruments and their predictive capacity for accurate diagnoses.”

The IOM will also, “ … will review the literature on compensation practices for PTSD…and how changes in the frequency and intensity of symptoms affect compensation practices for PTSD; assessing how compensation practices and reevaluation requirements for PTSD compare with other chronic conditions which have periods of remission and return of symptoms; and reviewing strategies used to support recovery and return to function in patients with PTSD.”

No VA press conference, just a quiet, low-key way to implement the AEI’s views on PTSD, while denying that this is what is happening.

A politicized US Atty Stephen Biskupic, a secretive VA run by Jim Nicholson, and mean-spirited bureaucrats like Special Agent Vasil add up to big trouble for Airman Keith Roberts.

In a letter to US Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison, Wis), who sits on the House Committee on the Judiciary which plans to ask Biskupic to testify and answer questions on his public corruption and voting rights prosecutions, Deloris Roberts writes:

“Why they decided to abuse and then imprison my mentally and physically ill husband is beyond my comprehension. Keith is a good man who served honorably, and now he has been sentenced to spend 48 months in federal prison for a crime that was impossible for him to have committed.

“The Secretary’s (Board of Veterans' Appeals) BVA states on page 25 of it(s) denial decision that ‘the only other evidence in support of the claim was the veteran’s own unverified statements which are inadequate to establish service connection for PTSD as a matter of law.’ So how can Mr. Biskupic charge him with Wire Fraud for giving fraudulent statements when (the) VA can’t use the non-combat Veteran’s statements to grant a service connected benefit?”

Next Steps
Keith Roberts’ case continues to be adjudicated while he waits behind bars.

Two cases await to be played out:

- U.S. v. Roberts, E.D. of Wisconsin federal court, docket 05-CR-118. U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, 07-1546, 03/12/07.

- Roberts v. Nicholson, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, 05-2425, fully briefed and pending assignment of a judge.

“Roberts is a test case. If the VA gets away with this, they’ll plan B (get mean with) and intimidate a lot more vets,” said a Vietnam veteran advocate.

In the meantime, several questions remain to be asked of the controversial US Atty Biskupic:

- What transpired between the first indictment and the superseding indictment?

- Why were only the VA Special Agents (with no formal law enforcement experience) used to investigate the alleged crimes in the mail fraud and wired fraud indictment?

- Why did the US Atty step in prior to the exhausting of the administrative law remedies, when Roberts’ case was still being adjudicated? What was the rush?

- Does this extraordinary prosecution represent another abdication of prosecutorial discretion by US Atty Biskupic, in favor of achieving the political ends of the politicized Bush DoJ?

The Roberts family, friends, and a lot of vets are looking for answers.

- This piece underwent minor editing since its posting. -

Update: From the AP
Senior VA Officials Get Big Bonuses
Associated Press May 03, 2007
WASHINGTON - Months after a politically embarrassing $1 billion shortfall that put veterans' health care in peril, Veterans Affairs officials involved in the foul-up got hefty bonuses ranging up to $33,000.

"The list of bonuses to senior career officials at the Veterans Affairs Department in 2006, obtained by The Associated Press, documents a generous package of more than $3.8 million in payments by a financially strapped agency straining to help care for thousands of injured veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Among those receiving payments were a deputy assistant secretary and several regional directors who crafted the VA's flawed budget for 2005 based on misleading accounting. They received performance payments up to $33,000 each, a figure equal to about 20 percent of their annual salaries."

Seems like the VA dose not want to pay too much money to the vets who served, but rather to the VA crats who deny claims to the vets.

Cases to Adjudicated
  • - U.S. v. Roberts, E.D. of Wisconsin federal court, docket 05-CR-118. U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, 07-1546, 03/12/07.
  • - U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) docket number 05-2425;
  • - VA Board of Veterans Appeals docket number 03-04 265.


  1. Vet Imprisoned for Seeking Benefits

    dear Michael,

    i am writing from Australia because i just read your article "Vet Imprisoned for Seeking Benefits" and wish to say that we have just had a flood of articles in our media where australian veterans have been alledgedly accused of fraudulent claims.

    I chanced across your article and am wondering whether we are heading the same way. Was there any indication in earlier media articles that suggested PTSD veterans had put in false claims? and then this Airman is an example of such a precedent.

    Over here, almost word for word, our young veterans medical records go missing or kep clinical diagnostic material fails to surface so they have to head off to obtain a psych assessment to fill in the gaps. I have always warned our ill soldiers about re-creating the medical records that get lost or go missing. Its quite an interesting article you wrote and i would be keen to hear how his case develops.

    kind regards,

    maryann martinek
    major (retired)

    Lawyers coaching veterans on compo payouts: ADA
    Last Update: Tuesday, May 1, 2007. 9:09am (AEST)

    The Australian Defence Association (ADA) has accused lawyers of coaching veterans on how to seek compensation payouts after reports 1,200 soldiers who served in East Timor have filed stress claims.

    Almost one in 10 veterans of Australian peace keeping operations in East Timor have reportedly filed civil claims for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    The Association's Neil James says it is illogical.

    "The issue really is that the number of claims of PTSD's from East Timor is out of proportion to what you'd expect from that type of operation compared to more stressful operations like Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

    "One of the things that is a concern is that there are people out there who are prepared to coach ex-diggers in how to make bogus claims and it's a cause for concern if that's occurring."


    Hardest fight for veterans

    Ian McPhedran

    May 03, 2007 12:00am
    Article from: ?,21985,21661203-5000117,00.html

    VETERANS' Affairs has traditionally been a portfolio given to either a bright up and coming politician or used as a reward for loyal service.

    Current minister Bruce Billson falls into the first category and like his predecessors faces a hugely challenging issue: managing the mental health of damaged military veterans.

    How can a politician console a family whose son or daughter has taken their own life because of severe mental illness?

    Whether it is triggered by the stresses of military life, genetic or other factors, the result is broken lives.

    This week it was revealed that an Afghanistan veteran, Geff Gregg from Ballarat, had taken his life.

    There could be up to five veterans from recent conflicts who have committed suicide.

    Lobby group the Australian Defence Association has virtually accused East Timor vets of making up claims for post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Mental health is a complex and fraught area and Bruce Billson has been more serious than most about tackling it.

    Mr Billson has harmonised many claims that veterans make so red tape is minimised.

    He has also established an inter-departmental working party to streamline the benefits trail across portfolios such as Defence and Centrelink.

    He is also working to raise community awareness of the $4.5 billion that DVA spends every year on health care and the $130 million of that devoted to mental health.

    "Some days I shed tears about these people," he said.

    To have the ADA bagging veterans is counter-productive, even dangerous.

    ADA chief Neil James is on the record saying more than 1200 compensation claims had been lodged by Timor veterans. He apparently believes this is a legal conspiracy.

    The fact is there have been 700 PTSD claims by East Timor vets from 16,000 deployments and 81 per cent have been approved by the DVA.

    We also know that 50,000 veterans from all conflicts require mental health care.

    What we don't know is how many more are out there and with people making ill-informed comments, they will not be encouraged to come forward.

    Defence filters out those with mental problems at recruitment, with numbers of serving personnel with such problems well below the national average.

    The problem is the sub-standard rehabilitation and transition programs for those who leave.

    "Their (defence) rehabilitation program for everything is a shambles," a senior government source said. "As soon as they are injured, kick them out and get another one.

    "Damage and replace has been the mantra, but now they can't be replaced."

    The Government is spending millions under the national mental health initiative to encourage veterans to seek help.

    The two-pronged approach involves a "keep in touch" initiative so veterans are invited in for a chat every 6-12 months.

    The second prong is GP education so that doctors know that if a veteran comes into their surgery to look closely for mental health issues. A key part of the program is family involvement.

    Yet for many veterans the real problem is dealing with Vets Affairs and a fight for justice in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

    Many law firms have opted out of veterans work because they can't afford the pro bono (no charge) effort required to combat the litigious DVA.

    DVA spent $5.2 million on lawyers last year fighting veterans in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

    That was down by $1 million on the previous year.

    Greg Isolani, of KCI Lawyers, has run hundreds of cases, most of them legal aid or pro bono, for veterans against the DVA.

    "Most veterans don't start off going to lawyers, they are forced ," he said.

    Mr Isolani, with 15 years' experience in the area, says the Australian Defence Association has no background in veterans entitlement issues.

    His view is: "They have no right to comment because they have zero first-hand knowledge."

    To have the ADA accusing ill veterans and to label their claims "illogical and out of proportion" displays an utter ignorance of mental illness.

    One thing all sides agree on in this debate is the need for a "one-stop shop" for veterans.

    As debate rages about compensation of war veterans, dozens from Somalia, Cambodia, Rwanda, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq and others who haven't served abroad remain at risk of suicide.

    They suffer every day from the stigma and helplessness attached to mental illness and they often do so alone.

    ANYONE with personal problems, call Lifeline, 131 114; Victorian Statewide Suicide Helpline, 1300 651 251; Mensline Australia, 1300 789 978.

    by martinek (0 articles, 1 comments) on Thursday, May 3, 2007 at 7:11:42 AM

  2. punish the complainant - that's what it's all about... keep your mouth shut and take what you get... shameful...

  3. This article appears in the May edition of THE VETERAN VOICE

    POW Network Negatively Targeting PTSD Veterans

    By; Jere Beery
    Operation Firing For Effect

    When you finish this article you will be faced with a decision. You will either choose to ignore that this is going on, or you will help find a way to stop it.
    One of the most common symptoms associated with combat related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is paranoia, the delusional fear that someone is out to get you. Recent revelations within the nation’s veteran community seem to imply these fears are not all that imaginary.
    The Veterans Administration was originally established as a ‘non-adversarial’ agency, and our veterans have always considered the VA as a ‘sanctuary’. Those two words are at the root of this entire article. The VA was a place where a vet down on his luck could get a cup of coffee and a hot meal, or the place a sick vet could count on being treated and cared for without fear of ridicule or unwarranted scrutiny. The vet always knew he/she could find unconditional ‘compassion’, ‘understanding’, and ‘prayer’ within the walls of a VA facility. Any vet could walk through the doors of a VA and know they were safe and not in danger. Well, the VA has apparently changed their ideology and method of operation.
    There is currently a group of self-appointed “government agents” targeting veterans receiving disability compensation from the VA. Their objective is to locate and prosecute disabled veterans that are receiving VA disability compensation that they are not entitled to. Their main focus is on veterans with a PTSD rating. They claim that the VA healthcare system is being bilked dry by phony PTSD claims. However, they cannot provide data to support their outrageous accusations. They operate with the full support and cooperation of the VA Inspector General’s office and other major law enforcement agencies. According to Chuck and Mary Schantag of Skidmore, Missouri and owners of the POW Network (, they have friends within the VA and DOD that will provide them with any personal information on a veteran they are investigating. In a recent email forwarded to my office, Mary Schantag wrote; “YES we continue to turn phonies and frauds and goldiggers into the VA IG and the FBI and law enforcement on a daily basis with a great team and huge support”. (Editor’s Note: All misspelling, capitalization, and sentence structure are the results of a direct quote via email.) In another email, POW Network associate and group member Mr. Gary Assell of Montgomery, Illinois and owner of Viper’s Web Page made this statement to justify their operations; “All disabled veterans are NOT the targets, only those who have obtained benefits through fraud and misrepresentation, which is punishable under Title 38 USC. It is a proven fact that veterans who have fraudulently received benefits or medical care through fraud or misrepresentation HAVE cost the VA millions of dollars”.
    This is not the first time we have heard of the POW Network and their questionable operations. Exactly one year ago, this same group harassed Mr. Gene Simes and myself and even boasted of acquiring our Social Security numbers without our consent. In an email exchange the Schantags made this statement; “We cannot afford to have some "friends" compromised as they search through files for the truth on this. And we meet with the VA IG Friday......” Mr. Simes and I filed a complaint with the VA Inspector General’s office and a formal investigation was launched. The investigation concluded the Schantags committed no crime, the case was dropped, and they continue their questionable relationship as informants with the VA IG today. The most notable and curious fact about our first encounter with the POW Network was Mr. Simes and I called our complaint into the VA Inspector Generals Office on May 1, 2006. On May 3, 2006 the Department of Veterans Affairs “announced they had lost a computer containing personal information on 26.5 million veterans (including Social Security numbers)…”
    Another Key associate of the POW Network group is a former Navy SEAL with 27 years in the service. Captain Larry Bailey of Chocowinity, North Carolina is probably best known for his association with the book; ‘Stolen Valor’, which was about veterans claiming military service or awards they were not entitled to. The Stolen Valor book spawned a rash of individuals subscribing to the theory that many of our veterans were frauds and the budget short-falls the VA was experiencing was due to phony veterans within the VA system. In a recent email sent to my office by Larry Bailey, he stated; “far too many veterans and phonies are bilking the VA out of hundreds of millions of dollars, and Congress will not allow the VA to do the investigation that is necessary to stop the fraud. Unless and until the fraudulent VA claimants are ferreted out and dealt with, I will not lend ANY support to any effort to give that corrupt agency another nickel. I am surprised that you would advocate pumping billions more down that bureaucratic rat hole.” In another email Bailey said; “Thank God that I don't have to depend on VA for assistance I really need, and I don't rip them off for false PTSD like a LOT of people do. And I have two good friends who are doing just that, saying that "I might as well get mine," or words to that effect. One of them even encourages me to get some myself. It makes me sick. That is what I was trying to explain to Jere Beery; he clearly didn't want to hear that.” This author wonders if Mr. Bailey has exposed these two “close friends” as frauds on the POW Network website, or has he remained silent while these individuals continue to supposedly defraud the VA. A third possibility is that Mr. Bailey is exaggerating these claims in order to support his own position. Only Mr. Bailey can be entirely certain as to the truth in this matter.
    These statements combined with the many complaints I receive from veterans stating they had been wrongly harassed, intimidated and publicly humiliated by the POW Network, paints a very ugly picture. Many veterans think the Schantags are using the sacred ‘Prisoner of War Movement’ to hide more sinister activities. Although the POW Network was originally established to address issues concerning the accounting of Prisoners of War and Missing in action, their objectives now have taken a very vile turn. They now apparently think they are a law enforcement arm for the entire veteran community. There is a VERY big difference between a person that illegally claims military awards they are not entitled to, and a sick veteran suffering from a medical condition (such as PTSD) which has suicidal tenancies associated with it. In this writer’s opinion, after many years of involvement in veteran’s affairs, it is not in the best interest of our disabled veterans to cast unwarranted blame on them, or to question any medical condition they may have which is recognized and diagnosed by the VA. Especially when sensitive emotional and mental issues are involved. The veteran community does not need this ridicule, scrutiny, or intimidation by any one, much less a self-appointed group of informants.
    It is unknown if the Schantags or anyone else in the group receives anything in return from the VA for the veterans they turn in. However, they do receive donations and endorsements from private sources and a number of veteran service organizations. They have also reaped the rewards of their notoriety in connection with Stolen Valor. Unfortunately, their exploits now are causing mistrust within the veteran community and unnecessary pain and grief to veterans and their families.
    Over the next few weeks ‘Operation Firing For Effect’ will be asking the hard questions of the VA, FBI, and several veteran service organizations. We want to know if they can verify that there is in fact a large number of frauds enrolled in the VA healthcare system, and if they condone, or participate in the ‘predatory’ tactics used by the POW Network. To date, we have spoken with 3 national veteran service organizations headquartered in Washington, DC; the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Blinded Veterans Association, and the American Legion. All three stated they do not scrutinize the disability ratings of their membership, and they have no data to support the VA has experienced a high percentage of bogus disability claims.
    If it is true that the VA has become so corrupt and inept that they are incapable of administering the rules and regulations governing the distribution of disability compensation, and that this has resulted in hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans receiving compensation that they are not entitled to, the American public has the right to know this as soon as humanly possible.
    There are currently an estimated 12 to 15 million illegal aliens in this country taking advantage of our system and its benefits. One might think if the POW Network were truly concerned about exposing fraud on a large scale, they would devote their efforts towards a real threat to our country. The Schantags claim “They Support Our Troops’ on one hand, and then turn around and suggest a large number of them are frauds? The support we give our men and women in uniform must be unconditional. The disabled veterans that fall under the control of the VA are National Treasures and should be protected the same as ‘hallowed ground’. Remember the word ‘sanctuary’? If the VA is involved in ANY way in the current campaign to ‘shake down’ the disabled veterans of this country, they have totally lost sight of their mission and should be held accountable by the American people. If the VA is encouraging civilian ‘bounty hunters’ to find veterans that may not deserve all they are receiving, they are no longer ‘non-adversarial’, they are ‘predators’. This violation of our veteran’s trust would not look good on a recruiting poster.
    Ask yourself these questions; Have we become so callus and bitter as a Nation that we feel the need to look for ways to discredit our veterans? What training or certification does the POW Network have that allows them to involve themselves in the ‘personal’ medical issues of a veteran? With the current URGENT needs of our most recent disabled veterans returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq is this ‘witch hunt mentality’ really helping the situation, or hurting? Does it really matter to the majority of Americans if a few boarder-line PTSD cases filed by ‘Verified Former Military Personnel’ fall through the cracks? Is it really worth the risk of targeting the wrong veteran with false accusations and triggering a tragedy? And finally, what does any of this have to do with accounting for our Prisoners of War or Missing in Action?
    It is not the intent of this article to imply fraud is acceptable under any circumstances. And this article is not intended to protect the fraudulent from exposure and/or prosecution. However, PTSD is a very sensitive medical condition that is better left to the medical professionals to diagnose and treat, not the POW Network. There is very little doubt in my mind that the number of fraud cases within the Social Security Administration, Medicare, and Food Stamp program far exceed any possible number of cases within the VA.
    If this article has upset you and you feel compelled to stop this unwarranted attack on our disabled veterans, contact your local media and ask them to investigate this story. Remember; if you do nothing, you can expect nothing to change. If you love your freedom, thank a vet!
    Editor’s note: The author assumes responsibility for all the information in this article. We welcome your comments. Send them to:

  4. The misplaced A, B, C’s of "DESIGNED TO HARM". 5/02/07


    In 2007 still misplaced are these records for the U.S. Senate’s stated Department of Defense (DOD) conducted on "hundreds of thousands" "experiments that were designed to harm"[6]:

    A. The previous experimentation lessons learned Research and Development (R&D) documents. Each subsequently conducted "designed to harm" project’s Scope of Work (SOW) that defines what the experiment is "designed" to accomplish. The then identified how, where, when and who.

    B. The conducted RESEARCHED "to harm" cause and effects that are closely followed and also recorded.

    C. The from the in-the-record evidence DEVELOPED safe production, use, protection and treatment.


    In 2007 duplicated is the U.S. Senate’s stated DOD "designed to harm" misplaced records? This is by the in 2006 established CIVILIAN Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). [8] Under its "NATIONAL SECURITY MISSIONS" is the advancement of the DOD Project 112, SHAD "Biomedical" lessons learned. [7] BARDA, under the present war cover, also lacks the oversight and accountability of the past wars DOD Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD) biological experiment.

    AT THE TIME, AND LONG AFTER THESE PROJECTS ARE OUT-OF-DATE, THIS EXPERIMENT REVEALING CAUSE AND EFFECTS ARE NOT IN A SUBJECT’S MEDICAL HISTORY. Their resulting disabilities are not in the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) "schedule of ratings for disabilities". [5] This Veterans Court Chief Judge’s "may not review" [5] cause and effects are not available for past, present and future veteran diagnosis and treatment: 1. By civilian HMO and VA Physicians'! 2. For each group’s long term "to harm" follow up, that would alert the victims. This is the U.S. Senate Report's from 1944, 63 YEARS of lost, individual and group benefitting lessons learned! Thereby, lost is treatment for the original and additional injuries. And 3. For use as evidence during U.S. Executive (DOD & VA) and Judicial Branch processes! The subjects’ never the wiser become, e.g., Congress’s recent "Veterans Right to Know Act" failures.


    H.R. 4259 [109th]: Veterans Right to Know Act to establish the Veterans' Right to Know Commission bill was proposed in the 2005 & 2006 Congresses. At the end of each session all proposed bills that haven't passed are cleared from the books. This bill never became law.

    The from 1944 DOD "designed to harm" experiments are documented as conducted on "hundreds of thousands" by the 1994 U.S. SENATE REPORT! [6] The REPORT's NOTES (No.'s 72, 168 & 169) cite, "The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code, Human Rights in Human Experimentation." Not addressed by the U.S. Congress and U.S. Courts are the many conducted in direct disobedience of the DOD Secretary's 1953 ‘Nuremberg’ order; "The Nazi Doctors" pages 343-345. [2] With the Secretary’s of all U.S. Military Services, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the DOD R&D Board then known! This ignored order was TOP SECRET until 1975, 22 YEARS LATER. The subjects by its "need to know" are prevented from finding out. The 1994 Report noted that rights be restored. To-date, in 2007, not done!

    "The court may not review the schedule of ratings for disabilities or the policies underlying the schedule.", i.e., the needed for treatment "designed to harm" policies with their causes and effects! [6] The Veterans Court Chief Judge's statement during 17-18 Oct. 1994. [5] His severely "may not review" restricted is a Congress's 12/18/88 established Legislative ‘no teeth' Article I Court. [9] Their oversight and accountability response to the 6/25/87 STANLEY experiment. One of the Judicial Branch Article III U.S. Supreme Court decisions on: 1. The DOD STANLEY 1953 order disobeyed 1958 confirming Congress is responsible Case. [3] And 2. The 1950 FERES Case that prevents recourse on DOD "harm" as "incident" to service. [1] Made very clear is that UNLESS CONGRESS CHANGES IT, BY REASON OF MILITARY SERVICE VETERANS’ LOST ARE PRIOR TO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS! They are given to convicted rapists and murderers. [4] These cases assume that the DOD and VA "disabilities" coverage provides remedy. Not addressed is the withheld R&D "designed to harm" identifying, needed for treatment evidence! Congress's 12 December 1974 Privacy Act censored the names of all injury witnesses from surviving and future service records. The 12 July 1973 National Personnel Records Center fire destroyed "to harm" service records.

    Will BARDA's needed for treatment "NATIONAL SECURITY" evidence be part of YOUR Medical History? Do these "designed to harm" experiments continue under the cover of the current "War on Terror"?

    A politically contrived justice denied for the greater good, end justifies the deliberate "to harm" means. Make the checks and balances within and between our branches of government work! Only when you hold your members in the U.S. Congress responsible will this happen!


    [1] Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135, 146 (1950)

    [2] DOD Secretary's 26 February 1953 NO non-consensual, human experiment’s Memo pages 343-345. George J. Annas and Michael A. Grodin, "The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code; Human Rights in Human Experimentation" (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). In REFERENCE [6] as NOTES 72, 168 & 169.

    [3] U.S. SUPREME COURT, JUNE 25, 1987, U.S. V. STANLEY, 107 S. CT. 3054 (VOLUME 483 U.S., SECTION 669, PAGES 699 TO 710). In REFERENCE [6] cited in NOTE 169.

    [4] U.S. State Dept., "U.S. Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights July 1994, Article 7".

    [5] Chief Judge and colleague statements, Court of Veterans Appeals, Annual Judicial Conference, Fort Meyer, VA., 17 & 18 October 1994. www.goodnet. com/~heads/ nebeker.html

    [6] December 8, 1994 REPORT 103-97 "Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans' Health? Lessons Spanning Half a Century." Hearings Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 103rd Congress 2nd Session. With NOTES 1 to 170.

    [7] "Project 112 (Including Project SHAD) Home"; shad/ Starting in 1962 DOD chemical and biological experiments.

    [8] Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Became law 19 December 2006.

    [9] Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 38, Part V, Para. 7252. Jurisdiction; finality of decisions.

  5. Mr. Leon & Others:

    I certainly can empathize with the experience of having to deal with a government gone mad.

    There are an entire CLASS of Veterans who have been denied proper accounting and medical care, let alone any kind of "reasonable" compensation.

    The Veterans of Project SHAD/112 have faced a fate similar to that described above in this BLOG. It is not unfair to characterize their situation as the VA-DOD simply waiting for them to die, now that they've been used, abused, and discarded...

    For more detailed information, please go to:

  6. My last post was truncated.

    At FreeDominion.CA, you will find a forum entitled, "Bio-Chemical Warfare and You".

    EVERY Veteran should be aware of the items revealed there.

    Whether you're contending with PTSD, Gulf War Syndrome, Agent Orange, or the long term physical effects of low-level exposures to Bio-Chemical Weapons, I have amassed a wealth of information for your benefit.

    Those who simply seek the TRUTH are of course welcome as well....!!!