- via MAL Contends

Madison, Wisconsin—A February 6, 1969 “Special Enlisted Personnel Performance Evaluation” corroborates the version of events of Airman Keith Roberts (1968-74) who sits behind bars, serving a four-year sentence for federal wire fraud after seeking VA disability benefits.

[img_assist|nid=1231|title=Airman Roberts in 1970|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=79|height=100]
The document (at MAL Contends) lists his duties at the Transient Line Operations Division, and Roberts was recommended for advancement to 3rd Class Petty Officer, two days after Roberts’ colleague and friend, Airman Gary Holland, was crushed to death in the wheel well of a C-54 airplane at a U.S. base in Naples, Italy on Feb. 4, 1969.

The document (exceptional in nature) is significant because it was given to Roberts and put in his service file two days after the death of Holland as the military equivalent of a pat on the back for Roberts’ performance at the scene of Holland’s death by Lt. Commander H.R. Truesdale, Roberts’ commanding officer.

Holland had trained with Roberts in New Jersey and they both came to the small Italy airbase as young airmen within weeks of each other.

The document undercuts the theory advanced by US Atty Stephen Biskupic’s office (Eastern Dist. of Wisconsin) that Roberts engaged in a “scheme” to “fabricate” events at Holland's death that led to his granting of disability benefits in 1999, retroactive to 1992.

Bush Policy

After being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and granted disability benefits, Vietnam-era veteran Keith Roberts had no idea that an array of political and bureaucratic forces allied with VA Secretary Jim Nicholson in 2004-05 was determined to adopt the policies of the rightwing think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, ultimately resulting in Roberts’ prosecution after Roberts phoned the VA and complained that the VA were engaging in fraud in the processing of his PTSD disability claim.

Roberts’ benefits were ultimately cut after his phone call, and US Atty Biskupic's office used the VA benefits-severed administrative fact as a means of prosecuting Roberts in a criminal process.

Under the Bush administration, the VA is using well-crafted propaganda to defend a reduction in benefits to veterans with PTSD, and redirect blame towards the troops themselves, or dismiss the PTSD as a mere pre-existing personality disorder, not requiring VA disability benefits.

On Memorial Day at a peace rally in Madison, one Vietnam veteran seeking PTSD benefits, Terry Collins, said, "The VA is trying to drive me crazy. They are just dragging this out and trying to frustrate me to death."

The Bush VA wants Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) disability benefits slashed, as returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets' and Vietnam-era vets’ claims have spiked.

Jim Henning

Roberts was advised by the late Jim Henning, a Shawano County (Wisconsin) Veteran’s Service Officer with an impeccable record, to apply for an earlier retroactive date for his PTSD disability benefits in an official VA document.

Henning’s advice laid out in an official VA document in Roberts file cut no ice with VA higher-ups and US Atty Stephen Biskupic (Eastern Dist. of Wisconsin).

Henning’s document was never introduced at trial.

Next Legal Steps

Roberts’ ordeal featured material misrepresentations and distortions of facts and VA processes made at trial, the grand jury indictment and investigation by the VA and US Atty.

And much exculpatory evidence was never introduced at trial in defense of Roberts.

Roberts' appeal brief is due June 29 before the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The government brief is due July 30. Roberts' reply brief is due August 13.

Oral arguments are scheduled at the Court's convenience.

Significance for Vets

Beyond Roberts’ liberty, the Roberts case bears heavily on 100,000s of vets as the Administration looks to cut costs by axing treatment and benefits for returning PTSD-wounded veterans, entitlements that are anathema to Bush rightwing ideologues.

No other VA case that Roberts’ attorneys or his colleagues have even heard of involves a veteran in the middle of the VA adjudication processes, indicted and then convicted of wire fraud. [And all benefits must be deposited through electronic funds.]

Every veteran who files for PTSD (especially Vietnam-era vets) is now at criminal risk if they cannot prove that their "stressors" exist to the evolving and high standard of the VA in these matters.

“The process of gathering evidence to prove PTSD disability is extremely time-consuming,” said Sen Barrack Obama (D-IL) in 2005. “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.”

Roberts is a warning to every vet. He was swiftboated by his own government and they are making this veteran look like a scheming, crooked con man.

The cases to be adjudicated are:

- 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.