Wednesday April 23, 2014
EXCLUSIVE: Feds Tell Veteran He Will Lose 2nd Amendment Rights Because of PTSDTim King and Jerry Freeman Salem-News.com
When did serving your country become a crime?
(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.
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.
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.
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:
Jerry Freeman is part of a new generation of dedicated news photographers who entered the Internet news industry as a
Teaming up with Salem-News.com he embarked on a
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