From the October 2000 Idaho Observer:

Feds using mental jackets to grab vets' guns

Policy ads one more Clinton insult to growing list of U.S. service personnel injuries

By Don Harkins

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Veterans, spouses and children who have received some percentage of disability compensation from the Veterans Administration (VA) are being denied the right to purchase a gun.

According to Shotgun News editor Neal Knox who has been covering this story as it has been unfolding since last November, the VA has improperly provided the FBI-administrated “National Instant Check System (NICS) the names of 88,898 vets and family members that receive mental disability pensions.

According to a June 2, 2000, internal letter to Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Offices and Centers from VA Compensation and Pension Services Director Robert J. Epley, more veterans and their dependants are being added to the list all of the time.

The move by the Clinton administration is an apparent attempt to use personal medical records against trained service personnel in an effort to disarm a significant population of weapons-trained Americans.

“The action is obviously in response to President Clinton's Executive Order last year calling for agencies to review their files to find additional categories, other than persons convicted of crimes 'punishable by more than a year in prison' who are prohibited by the Gun Control Act from purchasing firearms,” Knox explained.

The Epley letter stated that, “The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is providing the FBI with information on veterans rated as incompetant, incompetant surviving spouses, adult helpless children and dependant parents.”

As Knox observed, “Being 'rated' as incompetant by an agency is a far cry from being adjudicated incompetant by the courts, which is what the law demands.”

Neither the VA nor the FBI appear concerned about the law, but justify their action under the Brady Act which, Epley wrote in his letter, “requires the VA to give the FBI a list of veterans and certain family members who are VA beneficiaries and who have profound mental incapacities. The FBI puts those names on a national computerized list of people barred from purchasing or possessing weapons.”

Epley's letter also describes how the VA can rate new “incompetants,” or “restore a person's competancy.” The letter details that a vet has the right to challenge VA records, but not the method by which the record was established. “Which means that it can only be challenged in Congress or the courts,” Knox observed.

Thousands of veterans since WWII have been seduced by VA benefits programs to accept disability pay for such mental illnesses as post traumatic stress disorder. Vets who are repeatedly awakened by nightmares associated with their military service can receive money in the form of disability checks. By swallowing the government carrot, a vet has surrendered his rights to privacy and, as it turns out, his right to own or possess a firearm.

The betrayal of what is approaching 100,000 vets claiming a mental disability from the VA is just one in a growing list of federal government betrayals of U.S. service personnel.

KHistory shows that all of the wars dating back to the Civil War that have been fought by U.S. soldiers were manufactured events which had nothing to do with making the world safe for “democracy.”

KFor political reasons, hundreds of Viet Nam era POWs were left behind after the war to die in prison camps.

KRather than admit Dow Chemical's Agent Orange defoliant was responsible for the manifestation of a wide spectrum of illnesses in Viet Nam vets, the VA and Department of Defense made the sick soldiers prove it in court and, after almost 20 years, settlements were finally awarded to the Agent Orange-exposed vets who were still alive.

KGulf War veterans who were exposed to a cocktail of chemical and biological weapons, depleted uranium-coated artillery shells and military hardware, experimental anthrax and chemical exposure vaccines and cases of hot aspartame-containing soft drinks have been told that the fact they are dying slowly and painfully is psychosomatic.

KIf a soldier takes his oath to support and defend his nation seriously and disobeys a direct order to violate his oath by refusing to wear a UN uniform, he will be court martialed and dishonorably discharged.

KGovernment documents prove that soldiers have been used, and will continue to be used, without their knowledge or consent, as human guinea pigs for any type of psychological, medical or weapons research the government dreams up.

The Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act of 1993 established the National Instant Background Check System (NICS). Under the auspices of the act, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) defined seven categories of Americans who are to be prohibited from purchasing (and, therefore, owning or possessing) firearms. The BATF incorporated the VA's definition of those benefits recipients they have rated “incompetent” into the category of those who have been adjudicated as mentally defective.

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