- Driving through Washington DC while transporting his personal firearms, wounded war vet Augustine Kim thought he would be OK stopping for his medical appointment there. Arrested and jailed, the city confiscated over $10,000 of his property and when he finally got them back they were damaged and ruined.
- An Ohio veteran is adjudicated mentally incompetent despite having passed previous examinations and not being proscribed drugs of any kind, but he’s well-known for espousing freedom and doubting his government so his weapons were confiscated under the guise of the good of the community.
- A decorated combat veteran, recently honored for going to extreme lengths to take care of a brother soldier is stopped for a “random vehicle check”, found to have 30 round AR15 magazines (now illegal in the state of New York) and is arrested. He now faces an astounding seven years in prison.
- A soldier home from Iraq has trouble sleeping. He calls the VA hotline and gets a barrage of personal questions, one of which is “Do you own any guns?” A short time later, he receives a SWAT visit in the middle of the night. Without a warrant and without reading him his rights, he was arrested and his weapons confiscated.
It was the perfect time.
I had just made myself a gin and tonic that would’ve required a small loan had I got it at the pub.
All I wanted to do was listen to a scary episode of Coast to Coast, sip my drink and play some violent video games (completely inappropriate for teens but good escapism for an adult with anger issues).
The “ding” of an e-mail alert went off. It was a young friend I had made via social networking. We had a lot in common: we hated being deployed and we loved America. He was worth breaking out of my stupor to see what was going on.
“Is this legit?” he asked. It was a story from a blog I wasn’t familiar with claiming that the VA was sending out notifications to veterans telling them that if they were adjudicated “mentally incompetent” that a section of the “Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act” prohibited them from purchasing or even possessing a firearm.
I looked at the blog and realized there was way too much research to be done in order to give him a fair answer. My cynical nature wanted to say, “Of course,” or “I wouldn’t doubt it” but the journalist in me forced something more rational, “I’ll have to look it up and get back to you, kid.”
A short time later, another e-mail alert went off. This time from a friend currently deployed. He was taken from my unit and forced to fill a partial mission requirement that left me in garrison. When he writes, I always stop what I’m doing to respond…even when I have to shake some gin fog out of my eyes. He wanted to know if, when he got back, some do-gooder at the VA was going to label him with PTSD and take his guns away.
He referenced the same blog.
After blinking hard a few times, my cowardice got the best of me and I wrote, “I’ll look it up and get back to you, brother.”
I closed Microsoft Outlook on my computer and attempted to stretch out my arthritic back in a way that would give me a good view of the virtual carnage about to appear on my TV screen.
—When I realized that I had left my Facebook account logged in and the annoying e-mail noise went off. It was my researcher, co-worker and friend, the Sergeant Major. He wanted to know if I had seen the story about the VA helping take away soldier’s guns.
But this time, I had an ace up my sleeve: the Sergeant Major was on the team and I knew just how to get to him, “Looks shady. Get me another source so that I can verify it.” All he could come up with were pictures and pdf’s of the same letter from the blog.
“I’ll track it down tomorrow!” I snapped, logged off of Facebook, took a big pull from my drink and grabbed my game controller.
The next morning brought some urgency and I pushed hard to get my work accomplished so that I could squeeze in time to address this upsetting allegation.
As I began to dig, it seemed that this was an issue that came to a head all last year. Since 2007, well-meaning legislators have been pushing the “Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act”—a bill that sought to safeguard veterans from losing their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms should the Veterans Administration deem them incapable of handling their own financial affairs. Perhaps not surprisingly, it has repeatedly failed in the Senate.
For a short period of time, Tom Coburn (R-OK) sought to add a similar protection to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act—the annual funding legislation whose previous incarnation included some disconcerting language about indefinite detention of “terrorists”. Tough-as-nails fighter that he is, Coburn eventually withdrew the amendment after the objections of his friend Charles Schumer (D-NY) who claimed to “love” veterans and “vote for them all the time” and then equated a veteran with PTSD as no different than any other “felon”.
So it was time for me to go to work.
Um…besides the real job that paid my bills.
As soon as I had the opportunity, I began making calls to the VA. The first thing I realized was that, unless you proclaim that you are ready to hurt yourself, the Veterans Administration was as responsive as Lily Tomlin with a switchboard in front of her. The main 800 number wouldn’t even allow you to leave a voicemail, you just got hung up on after the automated message finished telling you how important your call was.
Time to get inventive. The letter in question appeared to come from the Portland Oregon VA. After several different department personnel admitting they really had no idea what I was talking about, I was finally given the information of someone who would: Mental Health official and Suicide Prevention Manager Rob Tell.
And had to leave a message.
Fortunately, Rob wasn’t like the typical VA administrator, he returned my call.
The information he gave me was that mental incompetence adjudication was different for every state, and he assured me that the process in Oregon erred on the side of caution. The weight necessary to require the VA to submit a soldier to the FBI’s “National Instant Criminal Background Check System” was similar to what would be required in a legal commitment proceeding. In his experience, he had only seen it happen once.
But what he did admit was happening more often, was when local law enforcement was involved in responding to a troubled vet call and they found out the soldier had a concealed carry permit. These required almost no effort for law enforcement to revoke and they frequently did just that.
The Huffington Post and Associated Press dismiss the issue with the disgustingly deceptive statistic that:
Only 185 out of some 127,000 veterans added to the gun-check registry since 1998 have sought to have their names taken off, according to data that the VA shared with lawmakers during a hearing last June.
So of the 127,000 veterans stripped of their Constitutional Rights, only 185 had the desire or the means to fight it…this “honesty” from the very institution that conducted the travesty.
This outrageous number was confirmed by the office of Senator Richard Burr (R-NC).
Besides bureaucrats at the VA gunning for their guns, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines face their very own chain of command who pushed last year to take their already draconian privately-owned firearms restrictions even further for the sake of their “safety”. These are the same restrictions that made the massacre at Fort Hood by the Islamist-non-terrorist Army Major Nidal Hassan easy to pull off.
The Department of Homeland Security recently labeled returning veterans as a terror risk because they “possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to right-wing extremists…”
The FBI—an organization whose premier occupation seems to be entrapping mentally-defective dupes into terror activities and then swooping in to stop them—joined in the push to demonize veterans based upon their “confidential sources”.
With “gratitude” like this for disrupting their lives, destroying their families, ruining their souls and mutilating their bodies, it’s hard to imagine why there’s so much trouble getting soldiers to re-up these days.
UPDATE: 25 February, 2013, 08:55 am EST
What constitutes “incompetency”? Johnny’s brother has the answer.