Critiques of the Judiciary
On Veterans Day, 2007 Charles Heckman visited the Washington State Veterans Memorial beside the State Capitol in Olympia. Carved in a stone opposite the names of those who died were the following words:
A Veterans Day MessageCHARLES W. HECKMANNovember 12, 2007
Although sounding innocuous or even well-meaning in themselves, these words express the politicians' hypocritical and self-serving message to exonerate themselves for what has been a clandestine genocide designed to get rid of those who risked their lives for the United States for the concepts of freedom and democracy during the Cold War. It is a public disclaimer of complicity in what could be interpreted to be the deliberate sentence of death passed on veterans in general so that the non-veterans presently running the government can save the high cost of medical care and other services to which the law entitles veterans. Last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs spent about one billion dollars less than they should have on medical care for veterans. At the end of the year, the supervisors of this federal department voted themselves extremely generous "merit bonuses" for this good work.
The words on the monument do affirm one undeniable fact: that veterans faced far more problems after returning to the United States than they did on the battlefields of Vietnam. In fact, more veterans have died through acts of bureaucratic malice than from enemy bullets. Already, over a million of the nine million veterans of the Vietnam Era are dead, many of them prematurely due to extreme poverty, psychological abuse, and untreated illnesses. The words on the memorial, however, imply that the physical and emotional wounds that led to the death of the veterans were inflicted on the battlefield. Certainly, many veterans did return home with such wounds, and the deaths of a few of them may have been unavoidable. However, in the majority of cases, the politicians and their henchmen in the civil service were those who killed and maimed the veterans, both physically and emotionally. Those who developed rare diseases because of their exposure to the dioxin in agent orange, for example, were denied medical care while the government denied the connection between the dioxin and the diseases, in spite of a growing body of evidence demonstrating this connection. Eventually, the government had to admit the link between the chemical and the diseases, but by then many of the veterans were already dead. Other veterans were denied treatment for conditions that would prove fatal after lawyers employed by the Veterans Administration fed their military records through a "
paper-wolf" in order to delay processing until death concluded the veterans' claims. The fact that a few of those lawyers were sent to federal prison for this does not bring the veterans they killed back to life.
The sentences generally given for this kind of bureaucratic homocide clearly express the contempt in which judges hold veterans. When "Dr." Paul Kornak went to work for the veterans hospital in Albany, New York, the Veterans Administration officials who hired him must have known that he had flunked out of medical school. Nevertheless, they assigned him to treat patients. To get about 70 of the veterans into an experimental cancer treatment program, he falsified their records. If he had passed his courses in medical school, he would have known that the medication they were to receive would kill them. In 2005, he pleaded guilty for the deaths of five of the patients who died from the medication. His sentence of 71 months in prison amounted to one year and 10 weeks for each of the veterans he was found guilty of killing. For the murder of one non-veteran, a death sentence is often given, and for second degree murder of one person, 25 years is not an uncommon sentence. The fact that the victims were veterans accounts for the discrepancy in the sentences. After all, he saved the federal government money by killing them, precluding future medical costs, pensions, and other benefits they would have been entitled to receive.
For veterans lucky enough to remain healthy and fit enough to survive without medical treatment, the government had other ways of substantially shortening their lives. The massive job discrimination to which veterans have been subjected since the Vietnam War guaranteed that some would wind up homeless and die of hunger and exposure in the streets. The United States Department of Labor saw to it that no harm would come to any employer for excluding veterans from his work force. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has been assisting federal agencies to find ways of keeping veterans off their employment rolls. Biased lawyers for administrative agencies, like the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, Merit System Protection Board, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, have seen to it that civil servants who discriminate are never called to account for their actions, no matter how obviously illegal they are. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is the only court permitted to hear appeals of decisions on veterans lawsuits, both from the Court of Veterans Appeals in cases involving benefits and from the Merit System Protection Board in cases involving violation of veterans' employment rights with agencies of the federal government. This court was introduced by President Ronald Reagan to standardize the decisions made in such cases. This goal was achieved. The Federal Circuit judges rule that the federal agency is right and the veteran is wrong in every single case. The judges also contradict the stated intent of Congress in interpreting each of the laws. They do this with the assurance that the United States Supreme Court will never grant certiorari to a veteran under any circumstances, although this court has agreed to hear cases brought by non-veterans who wish to challenge the constitutionality of giving veterans any benefits at all.
Since I returned from Vietnam and received my honorable discharge in 1968, the federal government and the governments of several states have spent over a million dollars in legal costs to keep me from ever finding employment in the United States. I do not know the exact amount because the United States Department of Justice has been denying me my right to this information under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts. However, I learned through the State of Washington's public disclosure law that the state has spent more than $55,000 to keep me from working for that state. Since I have spent more than 20 times as much time and effort in litigation against the federal government, the figure of a million dollars has assuredly been exceeded.
Meanwhile, the State of Washington has also been fighting employment discrimination lawsuits filed by nine other veterans and has spent more than half a million dollars on legal costs to win the favor of state judges who have declared veterans preference to be unconstitutional in the state. Legally, that means that the state should be inelegible to receive any federal money because the federal contract includes clauses that require recipients of such contracts to provide affirmative action for veterans of the Vietnam War and some subsequent conflicts. However, the United States Department of Labor has consistently refused to enforce the federal contract, so the states can continue to use federal money to discriminate against veterans. The State of Washington is free to use the more than $3.8 million that it receives each year from the U. S. Department of Labor to provide special employment service to veterans for its legal fees to prevent veterans from finding employment of any kind. The Washington Supreme Court has refused to rule on veterans preference, keeping its hands clean and leaving the decision that has wrecked the lives of countless veterans to minor state judges on the appeals courts. While Governor Christine Gregiore, a Democrat, was attorney general, she was responsible for this misuse of funds. Her successor as attorney general, Rob McKenna, a Republican, is continuing the same policy of using state funds to interfere with veterans trying to find employment in Washington. The State also expects to receive a large amount of money from the federal government for homeless veterans under a new law, so Governor Gregoire wants to make sure that as many veterans as possible become homeless. Like the money appropriated for assisting veterans to find jobs, this money can be misappropriated and given out to pay for the state agencies that prefer to hire unqualified non-veterans instead of highly qualified veterans.
As you might expect, the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have been finding it nearly impossible to support themselves. Many were illegally fired from their jobs when they were called to active duty. The suicide rate among them is enormously high, and they are providing a new generation of homeless. The Government Accountability Office recently issued a report that 16,000 veterans have filed complaints of employment discrimination. This represents only about one third of the actual number who have been discriminated against. The other two thirds are aware of the fact that their compaints will automatically be rejected and that they will be blacklisted for complaining.
During my recent appeal before the Merit System Protection Board, I learned that agencies are hiring wholly unqualified non-veterans to fill jobs demanding special education and skills. GS-15 vacancies for supervisory scientists are routinely filled by the Department of the Interior with people who either flunked out of graduate school or were never admitted in the first place. It was explained that agency supervisors do not like civil service examinations so they choose people based on their own opinion. They just happen to hire people they already know or friends of members of the boards who recommend whom to hire. Hire your friends and you won't wind up with any whistleblowers! None of their friends are veterans.
The Office of Personnel Management ranks the "scientists" hired by the agencies at this level as equivalent to a full university professor. An affidavit from a scientist who actually hires scientists for a major university affirmed that the people without PhDs or even master's degrees who are being hired as full professors by the Department of the Interior would not even be considered as an assistant professor or lecturer at any university in the country. That affidavit was kept out of the record by the adminstrative judge of the Merit System Protection Board. Veterans with doctoral degrees, on the other hand, are referred to jobs picking up papers along the highway or operating elevators in government buildings, if they are lucky enough to find any employment at all. The United States Department of Labor developed a policy of classifying only jobs that pay less than $25,000 per year as "suitable for veterans." That policy was criticized 15 years ago by the General Accounting Office, but it has not changed.
I hope you had a Happy Veterans Day!
Veterans Day, commemorated November 11th, was observed on Monday, November 12th in 2007. Dr. Heckman's commentary was circulated to the Internet through A Matter of Justice, a discussion group that examines contemporary legal issues in America. See: http://www.amatterofjustice.org, accessed 11/13/07. Heckman may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C.
§ 107for a non-profit educational purpose.
A VETERAN'S LAMENT, PART 1 A VETERAN'S LAMENT, PART 2 A VETERAN'S LAMENT, PART 3 A VETERAN'S LAMENT, PART 5
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