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EXCLUSIVE: Feds Tell Veteran He Will Lose 2nd Amendment Rights Because of PTSD
Tim King and Jerry Freeman Salem-News.com
When did serving your country become a crime?
Pat Kirby during the Vietnam War, and today.
(MYRTLE CREEK, OR) - (Also see related article: Feds Are Spending Billions to Help States Avoid Privacy Laws to Ban Firearm Ownership)
If Pat Kirby has his guns taken away by the federal government, then everyone else is probably going to eventually face the same thing. The clock is ticking. Pat Kirby is a decorated Oregon Vietnam Veteran with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). He never imagined he would receive a letter telling him he will have to turn over his guns, or face imprisonment.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.
Sue Kirby takes care
the family finances.
Pat Kirby is the ultimate expression of a law abiding American citizen. He served his country, worked hard to raise a family, and created a nice life in spite of his PTSD. But his comfort zone was jerked away when he was told he had to give up one of his most basic rights for the most unbelievable reasons.
There was no no crime. The Veterans Administration has deemed Mr. Kirby "incompetent" because his wife takes care of their finances. He has a good credit rating, he pays his taxes, he has never been arrested in his life, yet the federal government says will have to surrender his firearms and give up his Second Amendment right due to the VA's designation of "incompetent". His alleged incompetence is based on his own admission that he does not take care of his own finances.
He and Sue live in a wooded, rural area near Myrtle Creek, Oregon, where wild animals often threaten their property, but now this honorable Vet may be left defenseless.
The word "frustrating" may not be sufficient to describe this family's feelings about the letter they recently received from the Portland, Oregon VA.
Pat Kirby served multiple tours in Vietnam in the U.S. Army, earning numerous decorations and medals for his service. Among these are several Purple Hearts. He was a sergeant in the Vietnam War who put all of his effort into saving the lives of his fellow soldiers, and on many occasions that is exactly what he did.
Meeting Pat, you get the sense you are meeting a hero; a man whose personal history is central to the very meaning of this country. Another Veteran who was heavily decorated from his service in the Vietnam War is Stuart Steinberg, a Bend, Oregon resident who was one of the first members of Vietnam Veterans of America He served with various explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams during his two tours in Vietnam.
There is no question that Pat's life has been heavily affected by his military service. He has medical issues like so many other Vietnam Veterans, but nothing has had the measurable impact that this ruling does. According to the documents, the demand that Veterans in Pat Kirby's shoes give up their firearms is based on the Brady Bill. I spoke to Mr. Steinberg about Pat Kirby's case, which he has been familiar with for several years.
"The Brady Act does not, in fact, allow a person like Pat to be denied gun ownership rights. The VA, and, apparently, the Federal government, are using the section about being 'adjudicated a mental defective' to illegally deny men like Pat Kirby the rights he fought for during his 37 months in Vietnam. The key word, there, is 'adjudicated.' A finding by the VA that someone is incompetent to handle his money is not an adjudication. To adjudicate something is to hear and settle a case by judicial procedure. This is not a judicial procedure--it is a finding by bureaucrat who is not a mental health professional. This is something that needs to be resolved by litigation because what the VA is doing is illegal and unconstitutional."
A personal friend of men like John Kerry, Ron Wyden, Stuart Steinberg is a former Georgetown University Law Professor. From 1982 to 2003, he worked as a public defender and as a criminal defense investigator, specializing in capital murder cases. Suffice to say, Mr. Steinberg's opinion regarding this bizarre and unprecedented action of the VA to seize the guns of decorated Combat Veterans who have never so much as been arrested, has measurable significance.
PTSD is a killer, but experts like Dr. Phil Leveque in Oregon, who has battled PTSD personally since fighting in the Second World War, then went on to treat thousands of PTSD Vets as a physician, says that when managed, PTSD Veterans tend to live extremely successful lives. That is Pat Kirby's story.
Dr. Phil Leveque on right, after interview
with PBS Producer Ken Burns
Stuart Steinberg said, "The VA contends that because someone might have problems handling their money, somehow, this makes them unable to own guns. What's next? Are they going to take guns from combat veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or a Traumatic Brain Injury, even if they have never committed a crime, never committed a violent act?"
It seems fair to assume that if the federal government takes Pat Kirby's guns away, they are sending a message to all Veterans - if they admit they have PTSD from wartime service, they can't talk about it or reveal it at all. They can't seek treatment, they can't tell their VA doctor, because if they do, they will likely receive the same letter Mr. Kirby received. In in this scenario, their wounds will fester and terrible things will happen as a result. That is not alarmist, it is a simple fact based on the history of many cases.
It is important that Pat Kirby says he could take care of his family's finances. He leaves that up to his wife, Sue, and has legal documents with a game plan for Pat's finances in case something happened to his wife. In that event his daughter would take care of his financial matters, and his son-in-law would be next in line. It seems more than adequate and risk free. Sue Kirby stresses that her husband has a very good credit rating, all of this from the VA really took the family by surprise.
The Veterans Administration and U.S. Congressman Ron Wyden are holding a meeting in Roseburg, Oregon at the time of this writing. Sue Kirby read a letter to the assembly of Veterans advocates telling Pat's story, and asking for intervention.
I have a copy of a letter that threatens to take away my husband's gun rights because he has PTSD.
My name is Sue Kirby and I have lived in the Roseburg area for 11 years. My husband is a patient of the Roseburg VAMC.
He is 100% service connected total and permanently disabled. He earned 3 Purple Hearts in his 37 months of service in Vietnam. He has a distinctive service record. He suffers many of the same illness's as other Vietnam Veterans. He has Avascular Necrosis of one hip. He has degeneration disc disease, two knees that will eventually need to be replaced along with his other hip. He has had a benign tumor removed from his mouth, Ulnar, Radial and Carpal Tunnel nerve surgeries, two knee surgeries, 2 back surgeries,hernia repair and a right hip replacement since leaving the Army in 1974. He also suffers from COPD,Sleep Apnea, PTSD and a TBI.
In 2012, his hip was replaced in March after being fee based out to a local surgeon. He waited a year and a half for it. He recuperated from his hip surgery and had about four good months before he woke up on September 15, 2012 with excruciating pain in his neck. Within a week the pain had traveled down both shoulders to his arms and hands, down his back and the back of his legs.
He is a rural veteran in the care of the Roseburg VA. His medical team at the VAMC are kind,caring and compassionate people. They have done everything in their power to try to help him. In a November 2012 MRI he was diagnosed with Cervical Spondylitis. He has bone spurs growing on the vertebrae in his neck causing impingement to his nerves. He has received two Cortisone shots that gave him little relief. He didn't like how the stronger pain pills made him feel. He had adverse reactions to several other pills by breaking out in hives. He was sent to physical therapy which failed.
He was then sent to the N.W. Pain Clinic at the Portland VA last June. They said he was a good candidate for surgery to remove the bone spurs, they also talked of another surgery to kill the nerves. They sent their findings to his primary care physician at the Roseburg VA. She requested a visit to the Neurology Spine Clinic at the Portland VA. She got him an appointment for Nov. 29th. 2012, 13 months after the initial pain set in.
Two weeks before his much anticipated visit to the Portland VA, they cancelled his appointment and set it forward to May 2014. When asked why they had cancelled, I was told they had shortage of Orthopedists and Neurologists. When his primary care physician found out his appointment had been cancelled she quickly applied for Fee basing out his surgery to a local surgeon. Her request was turned down twice so she sent her third request to the Chief of Staff at the Roseburg VA.
When asked why he was turned down, we were told it was a lack of funds. After the third request was turned down we resorted to plan B. My husband switched his Medicare to an Advantage Plan during open the enrollment in October, we plan to pay for it with our own money. These are the words of a trusted friend and service officer from Vietnam Veterans of America. I quote " Because of lack of funding for diagnostics and treatment,veterans are dying because they are not diagnosed in time or treated in time, when suffering from potentially fatal conditions. One of the biggest problems is the lack of funding for the Fee Base program."
He filed an application in Feb. 2013 for Aid and Attendance special monthly compensation. We went to two Comp. and Pen. exams in Oct. at the Roseburg VA. In the exam done by a psychologist my husband told the examiner that due to his constant pain combined with his PTSD that I take care of paying the bills, setting the budget and taking care of any disputes that sometimes arise with billing problems. I have been doing this since we 1972 when we first married. I now do online banking which he couldn't do because he knows nothing of computers. We received a determination which I want to read a few parts from. "The VA examiner found you are not capable of administering your funds. We propose to rate you incompetent for VA purposes. If the VA decides that you are incompetent to handle your benefit payments, VA may appoint a fiduciary to manage your payments. A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving,or transporting a firearm or ammunition. If you knowingly violate any of these prohibitions, you may be fined, imprisoned, or both pursuant to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act".
My husband is not the only veteran who has received this letter. I know a lady who has been doing their finances for 49 years who's husband got the same letter after he had a massive stroke.
We owe our veterans the best possible care we can give them, no matter what the cost is. They have already paid for it with the sacrifices they have made for our country. We owe them the respect and dignity they deserve. We don't need to threaten their 2nd,5th and 14th amendment right that they themselves fought to preserve. My husband is not the only veteran with PTSD, should they all lose their rights? Should they be afraid to ask for help because of fear of something like this happening? Should they have to wait years for ratings, diagnostics and treatment while in both physical and mental pain?
Update: No representatives from Wyden's showed up at the meeting, this holds true for two other Oregon politicians as well.
Special thanks to C-Span for the following links:
Gateway Page for Links to Anything Having to Do With the U.S. Congress
First Place to Go to Track Down Leadership, Membership or Committee Information
Start Here to Get Information About Contacting Federal, State & Local Elected Officials
About.com - How to Write Letters to Congress
View articles written by Tim King
Jerry Freeman is part of a new generation of dedicated news photographers who entered the Internet news industry as a second career. He shares in common with many people who fulfilled their life dream of becoming a visual journalist. Joining the Navy at an early age, and the Oregon Army Guard a few years later, Jerry has a wide range of life experiences. He describes himself as “a truck driver with a new found passion to bear witness to the world’s events.”
Teaming up with Salem-News.com he embarked on a new career as a video news photographer and reporter. Jerry's quick exhibition of natural talent and ability to shoot breaking news led to his becoming a published member of the Salem-News.com team.
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