Keith Roberts, wrongly imprisoned Vietnam-era veteran now living in a half-way house in Northern Wisconsin received an adverse ruling Friday from an en banc (full) panel of the UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR VETERANS CLAIMS (CAVC) in his benefits case (05-2425).
The 45-page opinion is complex. Some of the elements of the opinion remand parts of Roberts claim, but in sum, Roberts has been hung out to try.
Roberts had followed the advice of his veterans service officer and sought retroactive benefits dating to the time of discharge, bad-mouthed the DVA repeatedly, and was rewarded for his trouble with a federal prosecution during the Bush-Cheney years.
Roberts is considering appealing to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
For background, see Jailed Wisconsin Veteran Case Gets More Bizarre. From an earlier post:
What does the U.S. government do with a veteran who blows the whistle on the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (DVA) shreddergate scandal and who badgers the DVA as he “tenaciously pursues his claim for disability benefits," telling DVA staff that they are a bunch of "bureaucratic assholes?" The Bush-Cheney DVA and the U.S. Dept. of Justice targeted, convicted, and impoverished this Wisconsin Navy veteran on trumped-up charges of wire fraud.
Specifics, say the U.S. government, are that Navy Airman Keith Roberts and Gary Holland (who was crushed to death by a C-54 aircraft at an airbase in Naples, Italy, back in 1969) were not friends [despite their parallel service histories] and Roberts exaggerated his efforts to rescue his fellow airman, [despite the fact that he was on line duty, and subsequently at least one veteran present has corroborated Roberts' actions]. Yeah, that's right, those are the specifics of the prosecution's criminal case hatched back in 2005-2006 to shut up and retaliate against a veteran who had become, according to a Milwaukee DVA regional hospital source, a "belligerent ass." [A background source at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee e-mailed the Lee Rayburn radio show in Madison in early June 2007 after a program about the Roberts case and asked to remain anonymous out of fear of losing his job. "I'd have to say that you guys are TOTALLY (uppercase in the original) right about Roberts' conviction being bullshit. ..." Disability claim denied and off to jail.
In the latest developments, Roberts, a political prisoner of the Republican Party, now reportedly embittered and feeling hopeless, is expected to be released from federal prison in March after serving almost four years behind bars.
He still has a rare case [Keith A. Roberts v. Eric K. Shinseki (05-2425)] pending before an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) that issued what appears to be a bizarre order on December 29, 2009.
Roberts and the DVA
Roberts was advised in 2002 by the late Jim Henning, a Shawano County (Wisconsin) Veteran's Service Officer, to apply for an earlier retroactive date for his PTSD disability benefits predicated in part by his witnessing Holland being crushed to death and related trauma.
Critics and veteran groups rightly accused the Bush administration of the unprecedented politicalization of the Department of Justice and the DVA, and see the indictment and conviction of Roberts (and other veterans) on charges of wire fraud as a consequence of this politicalization that discourages Vietnam-era veterans from seeking PTSD benefits, per the views of the American Enterprise Institute's Dr. Sally Satel.
Roberts was diagnosed with PTSD and granted disability benefits in 1999, but became suspicious that the DVA was altering his Claim file (C-file), and he loudly accused the VA of engaging in fraud in phone conversations. Ultimately, the VA and then US Attorney Stephen Biskupic turned Roberts' charge around, and charged and convicted Roberts with fraud, an injustice that still has veterans all over the country shaking their heads in disbelief.