Veterans Equal Rights Protection Advocacy, Inc. ~VERPA~
P.O. Box 8225, Medford, OR 97504-0225
"Veterans & Families For Equal Justice Under Law"
Inc. December 1999
Founder/Executive Director: Jeffrey A. Trueman (PA) Legislative Coordinator: Barbara Cragnotti (OR) * Legal Coordinator: Misha Coale (JD), (VA) VA Abuse Coordinator: Susan Bauer (IL) * Gulf War S/I Coordinator: Robert J. Jones (NC) PR Coordinator: Renee S. Thurlow (MI) * Feres Doctrine Resolution Coordinator: Johnny O'Brien (FL)Human Rights Coordinator: Leigh E. Wise (GA) * National Security Coordinator: Mark Zeller (GA)
Web site: www.verpa.us * Email: email@example.com
June 15, 2005
RE: VERPA Inc. Legislative Status Report 05-01
Dear Veterans, Families and Friends of VERPA:
VERPA has moved!
Please take a moment to review our new web site at: http://www.verpa.us/ and please let us know what you think. We will update this site on a regular basis so please visit often. If there is any information you wish to submit for consideration and placement on our site, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. For example, we would like to place questions of national importance on our site, so please send us any suggestions you might have to better our mission for All Military, Veterans and Families who have been denied redress of a military connected injury or injustice either in the Department of Defense (DOD/Armed Forces) or Veterans Administration (VA).
Since our last Update Letter there have been many positive changes in VERPA Inc., and we are more focused and determined than ever to abolish the Feres doctrine. Therefore, from hereon out, we will be issuing Status Reports such as this to keep our supporters up-to-date. We will not be sending out mass mailings of future Status Reports as they can now be reviewed on our web site. However, if you have a specific legislative question, please contact Barb Cragnotti at email@example.com.
Broken Promise: As we mentioned in the past, the primary U.S. Senator we have been working with to advance the VERPA Act (hereinafter Bill and/or Act) and its language has been Mr. Specter of Pennsylvania. Mr. Specter, who is now the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (hereinafter Committee), broke his promise by not introducing the Bill upon working with us to finalize the language in the Bill. The specific language we have gone back and forth with was the legal definition negligence and gross/criminal negligence. The specific terms are critical whether or not American service members and families are treated equally under the U.S. Constitution and Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) of 1946; to petition the government for redress of wrongs, without disrupting good order and discipline in the military.
What concerns US greatly about Mr. Specter is the fact that in 1999, he introduced S-1970 to address the Feres doctrine subject matter. The Bill did not survive and VERPA firmly believes it was due to the attempt to allow negligence claims arising out of the military. Again, this cannot happen as every act or omission in training for war and carrying out war; could potentially result in a lawsuit and this would bring the military to a halt. However, to raise the bar to allow gross/criminal acts or omissions outside the scope of combat only make sense in a free republic as America! Nevertheless, our concern that Mr. Specter is stonewalling and hoping the Feres doctrine abolishment movement will go away is evident by his past history of condoning atrocities arising in our military and barred by the Feres doctrine. Two primary examples include firstly: (1), In 1993, VERPAs Founder, Jeff Trueman while on active duty in the U.S. Navy first made contact with Mr. Specter after he was reprised against at Naval Air Station (NAS) Willow Grove, PA, for refusing to stand down after being threatened that proceeding with issues of fraud, waste and abuse would result in the termination of his exemplary military career. (These facts have been investigated by ABC News 20/20 for its program An Abuse of Power? which aired in 1999 and Jeffs military records were used in support of the program). In addition to Jeffs standing tall to fraud, waste and abuse, he also led several other military and civilian personnel from NAS Willow Grove, PA to compel Senator Specter to intervene and remedy the bona fide issues of fraud, waste, abuse and reprisals arising at the Grove. In all, Mr. Specter did absolutely nothing and one civilian committed suicide. Moreover, Jeff and another civilian employee, Tony Keller were directly reprised against and both lost their government careers. The nexus with Jeffs case and that of Keller and the Feres doctrine is the fact that the very same command leaders who destroyed Keller for reporting unlawful discrimination at the base, also destroyed Jeffs career. To prove the chilling effects of the Feres doctrine with regard to equal justice under law for service members and families; in the case of Keller v. United States Navy, Tony prevailed as a civilian and was awarded a $200,000.00 out of court settlement. As for Jeff due to his military status, the courtroom doors have been locked! In sum, if Mr. Specter would have intervened, U.S. Taxpayers would having won and so would have Keller without having to file a lawsuit and Jeff would have 22 years of active duty military service and most probably would be a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer. Therefore, VERPA argues it is simply outrageous for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to pay hush money once it knew military defendants would lose in court, when the DOJ should have investigated defendants for violating federal law. To award a civilian employee who only worked for the government for four (4) years a $200,000.00 out-of-court settlement is a slap in the face to all Military, Veterans and Families who if injured in like circumstances, must rely on the VA to remedy the mental or physical injuries and injustices; wherein there is no proper forum of redress. In all, the Keller case due to administrative and legal work by government lawyers to defend the reprisal matter in addition to the settlement can be estimated to have reached well over one-half a million dollars! Thus, we can only ask the question; What Atomic Vet, Agent Orange Vet, Gulf War Syndrome Vet, Hep-C Vet, Rape Vet, Murder Vet, and/or any other Veteran and Family with a bona fide grievance arising incident to service was ever given $200,000.00 to hush their injustice? Are there any? We would like to know. Please let us know if any Veteran who has been victim to the wrongful act or omission of a federal employee "incident to service" has been provided an out-of-court settlement, if you know of any such person. We believe there are none and that is why we work 24/7 of our own lives to fight the Feres Doctrine so the wrongs that happened to us, do not happen to others. Secondly, notwithstanding the NAS Willow Grove corruption issues Mr. Specter failed to act and prevent, his pattern of knowing and doing nothing to address the Feres doctrine injustice is further self-evident with his involvement on the Senate VA Subcommittee and participation and issuance of the Rockefeller Report. (We have included the Report in our VERPA Act page).
As we have set forth above, Mr. Specter is well aware of the 54-years of atrocities that are being condoned under the Feres doctrine and he now holds the absolute power as the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to terminate the unconstitutional Feres doctrine. As American Veterans and Families we must directly challenge Mr. Specter compel him to introduce the VERPA Act without further delay for American service members to be afforded the right to petition the federal courts for redress of wrongs arising from gross/criminal acts of federal employees arising incident to service. We argue if allowing criminal acts to be barred under the Feres doctrine is good for national security; why enforce any laws in America. Moreover, to turn the blind eye on human rights abuses of American service members under the Feres doctrine, but, to authorize war in Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from engaging in similar abuses of Iraqis is simply hypocritical! Think about it! In essence, to allow negligence claims would disrupt good order and discipline and would hinder a military commanders ability to train and fight wars as every decision and order could result in a lawsuit arising out of the United States Armed Forces. VERPA opposed allowing negligence claims, as it is our legal position these types of matters must be exclusively addressed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) as dereliction of duty and there is no excuse for the October 8, 2002 Senate Judiciary Hearings on the Feres doctrine to resume without further delay.
The half-century argument by the government that Feres is essential law for the good of national security is a moot legal position. Our proposed Act will afford service members and their families who are victims to the gross/criminal negligent acts or omissions of federal employees the right to be heard, if the intra-military administrative remedy processes breakdown, as is the reality presently with the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) having sole discretion under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act. In all, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Thus once a service member or family member fights an injustice within the military and is denied justice, then, the filing of private cause of action at the United States Court of Federal Claims (USCFC) will achieve the safety-net provision as proposed under the VERPA Act and amendments to Title 10 U.S.C. Sections 1552 and 1034, the present system of redress in the intra-military system of justice.
We reasonably believe the VERPA Act is a win-win situation. The bottom line with the VERPA movement is that constitutional checks and balances on military power and criminal acts or omissions presently denied redress by the Feres doctrine are even more atrocious matters than why the Founders of our Country went to war against King George III of England! Research the facts and atrocities arising in the militarys command, legal and medical systems under the Feres doctrine and it can be concluded; a safety-net provision under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) of 1946 to coincide with the Inspector General Act and Military Whistleblower Protection Act is a better option than Revolution. In all, under the VERPA Act safety-net provision; no frivolous lawsuits will arise from the military. Moreover, to hold standing to petition under the provisions of Title 10 U.S.C. Sections 1552 and 1034, must be exhausted. The "VERPA Act" is not intended to allow for million dollar judgments; it is intended to ensure individual accountability and American service members or loved ones victimized by the gross/criminal acts or omissions of any federal employee are afforded their inalienable right to petition the government for redress of grievances under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to ensure checks and balances not only to expose abuse of power and other abuses; but to afforded service members the very protections they serve in the U.S. Military to preserve for all Citizens of the United States of America!
In summary, Mr. Specter promised VERPA and our supporters he would introduce the Feres Doctrine Bill before the end of the 108th Congress and he would further introduce the Bill at the beginning of the 109th Congress so it could quickly pass through the Senate. As you know, that promise was broken and it is time to hold Senator Arlen Specter and his Staff accountable. Therefore, VERPA has decided to reevaluate our strategy to hold Mr. Specter, his Staff and all Members of Congress who have failed to act and remedy the Feres doctrine atrocity accountable and we are drafting a Feres Doctrine Resolution (FDR) for dissemination to all Veterans organizations and individual Veterans Rights Advocates who believe the Feres doctrine has denied their specific issues redress by our government public servants. It is our desire to seek input or suggestions from all interested organizations and individuals to place all issues important to U.S. Veterans and Families on the table at one time, under the VERPA Act.
Feres Doctrine Challenge: The challenge is simple; every American should be calling their federal legislators to abolish this abomination. That is not a realistic goal to achieve however, every Military member, Veteran and Family should make these calls if you wish not to be treated as a second-class citizen in America! If child molesters, murderers and rapists in federal prison can be provided a private right of action to redress the wrongful acts or omissions of federal employees, so should the men, women and families who defend the Nation! Having said that; VERPA asserts the Feres Doctrine is unconstitutional for two major reasons: 1), it denies service members due process and equal protection to redress the gross/criminal acts or omissions of federal employees and 2), it violates the "Separation of Powers" clause of the U.S. Constitution. In essence, the U.S. Congress waived its constitutional oversight powers on military power and from the moment an American or other legally inducted person signs on the dotted line and swears their oath to defend and protect the U.S. Constitution, they are stripped of all constitutional protections they just swore to protect and defend for all Americans. Moreover, their families are also deceived and betrayed because once their loved one is no longer a use for the powers that be, they are the ones who will have to attend to their sons or daughters when discharged with service-connected mental or physical injuries when denied redress by the VA! This is fact! Moreover, in addition to the Feres doctrine exemption to the FTCA of 1946, deception is further barred! Getting the picture yet? Not only do the Feres doctrine and its chilling effects deny a service member and their family equal justice under law; the doctrine haunts Veterans and their families long after their ties are cut with the military. It obstructs lawful entitlements of service-connected mental or physical illnesses within the Veterans Administration Health Care System (VA). This assertion is fact as the military has a history of destroying and falsifying documents during the Medical and Physical Examination Boards (MEB/PEB) under the Feres doctrine. Once the MEB/PEB processes are abused; the discharged Veteran and family face an uphill battle within the VA in their attempt to prove a service-connected injury. This can only be changed by abolishment of the Feres doctrine.
All Veterans and Their Families can hold Congress Accountable for failing to act and prevent continued crimes under the Feres Doctrine: All Members of Congress are subject to prosecution for treason and felonious conduct. (Please see: "Our American Government" a book presented by the Committee on House Administration and request a copy via your federal legislator.) Well, lets get moving! We affirmatively assert the crimes we presented in our Petition in Support of the VERPA Act clearly falls under the legal definition of "treason and felonious conduct." The crime of betraying America (treason) is clearly established over the 54-years the Feres doctrine has been the law of the land! We assert, to injure or kill the sovereign or sovereigns family is treason. VERPA has filed many cases with Senators and Members of Congress around the country, in addition to the cases we submitted for the public record regarding the Feres doctrine Hearings held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 8, 2002 to support indictments for treason and felonious conduct. Now, Congress has a better feel as to how the Feres Doctrine negatively impacts our Military, Veterans and Families. Please help us make a more positive impact for the good of All American Veterans and Families! Please contact your Senators and Member of Congress, bring your case to their attention and then let us know what they say about your injustice and the Feres doctrine. Please ask them to assist in righting your wrong(s) and to help VERPA.US abolish the Feres doctrine before anymore honorable men and women serving the Nation are injured or killed unnecessarily under the judicially created Feres doctrine. To find your Federal Representative's local offices, please go to http://www.congress.org/ and type in your zip code. Please also document your issues on our on-line Petition in support of the VERPA Act at: http://www.verpa.us/
Time to Lobby: For the past five (5) years VERPA and our grassroots-volunteer Board of Directors and Officers have worked tirelessly lobbying against the Feres doctrine. We have constructed the VERPA Act based upon our status as victims of gross/criminal wrongful acts and omissions. We believe abolishment of the Feres doctrine will set genuine reforms in the DOD/Armed Forces command, legal and medical systems. Until then "individual accountability", wherein gross/criminal acts or omissions of federal employees, injuring the human or constitutional rights of service members or their families, will continue. We believe in our 5-years of existence, there is no better time then now to unite albeit an individual, Veterans Rights Advocate or Veterans Organization. We hope our FDR initiative will be widely accepted and all Americans who believe the Feres doctrine is unconstitutional will join in and help us advance the VERPA Act. It is the position of VERPA that in addition to Feres allowing the gross/criminal initial act or omission that injures or kills one of our own; the failure of public officials in positions to act and remedy the initial injustice are just as guilty and must be held accountable for allowing the perpetrator of the crime to get away with it, to protect the integrity of the system. As Senator McCain (R-AZ) stated in his run for President; The system makes good people do bad things is what this is all about! Good people are silenced to do the right thing under the Feres doctrine and we must change that reality.
The VERPA Act Witness List: In addition to voicing a personal injustice or citing an organizational objective via our on-line petition where every signature and comment is filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee, we have been constructing our permanent witness list for the VERPA Act hearings that will also coincide with the signers of our FDR. To complete this critical phase we are now asking all organizations to provide us with a Point-of-Contact (POC) we can work with to ensure the VERPA Act is truly a consolidated piece of legislation that speaks for all Veterans organizations regardless of their respective issues and concerns. Again, the VERPA Act is not about money or opening the federal courthouse doors to multi-million dollar lawsuits. Our proposed legislation is intended to restore the FTCA of 1946 to its initial exemption of matters arising out of or in the course of activities incident to combat with a safety-net provision under 10 U.S.C. Section 1034 to provide a private cause of action to redress gross/criminal acts or omissions which have no legitimate military necessity and injure Americans serving the Country when the intra-military administrative legal remedy processes breakdown. At this time we urge all interested parties, who agree with the VERPA Act purpose and intent to contact VERPA's Legislative Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide us with notice of your intent to join us when we achieve congressional hearings to abolish the Feres doctrine. At that point, we will send a copy of our VERPA Act Point Paper which will provide a substantive review of the magnitude of the legal issues involved with abolishing the Feres doctrine. Of course, this is where all respective organizations and individuals who are interested in signing the FDR can provide us with their input, suggestions and criticism if we are not advancing the VERPA Act with the goal to bring all Veterans and Families issues before Congress and to insure no one is left behind!
Time to Link: Please let us know if your organization would like to be linked to our web site and/or if we can be linked to your site by contacting email@example.com. Please pass the word on to all organizations or individuals who stand to benefit from our legislative initiatives to abolish the Feres doctrine.
When We, U.S. Veterans and Families and our friends unite to abolish the Feres doctrine and achieve this goal; our government will once again be: "Of the People, For the People, and By the People" as once stated by President Lincoln!
The overall purpose and mission of the VERPA Act is to ensure Individual Accountability wherein the wrongful acts or omissions of federal employees arising incident to service in the United States Armed Forces are no longer arbitrarily dismissed under the Feres doctrine and to achieve genuine reforms in the DOD/Armed Forces and VA. These monstrous goals can be achieved if we, U.S. Veterans and Families unite and demand equal justice under the U.S. Constitution! It is no secret that Congress does not act on any issue unless they see mass numbers of their constituents demanding change. Unfortunately, the Veterans Community is split for many reasons and as long as this continues to be the reality in America, Congress will remain silent to our pleas for equal justice under the U.S. Constitution. However, the one undisputed fact with American Veterans and Families is that we are all being betrayed by the Feres doctrine and Congress knows it!
In sum, there is no place in America for "Sovereign Immunity" or better known to American Veterans and Families as the Feres doctrine. Remember, the American Revolution was fought and won to ensure the "King Can Do No Wrong" ("sovereign immunity") and the rule of man never governs the rule of law. The "Supreme Law of the Land" which governs the United States Armed Forces is the U.S. Constitution, not the Feres doctrine. Unfortunately, since December 4, 1950, when Associated Justice Robert Jackson and the entire U.S. Supreme Court overstepped their duty as the Guardians of the U.S. Constitution via the judicial creation of the incident to service holding provision giving rise to the Feres doctrine. What is most disturbing is the fact that not long before Justice Jackson authored the Feres doctrine decision, he was appointed by President Harry S. Truman as Chief Prosecutor of the Nuremberg Tribunal. Looking back, Justice Jackson prosecuted Nazi-Axis power officials for engaging in crimes against humanity and other atrocities and achieved death sentences for similar atrocities such as human experimentation without informed consent, that is legal in America under the Feres doctrine. The un-American Feres doctrine must be abolished if American Military, Veterans and Families are to be treated fairly under the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.
We thank you for taking the time to read this first Status Report since we restructured our organization and mission agenda. Please forward this letter to all of your contacts to spread the word the VERPA Act can stop the abuses allowed by the Feres doctrine and set genuine reforms instituted in the DOD/Armed Forces and VA. For more information about the "active pro bono case work" we have achieved and other critical information in support of the VERPA Act; please read over the substantial information on our web site at: www.verpa.us. We urge all to feel free to contact any of our Board of Directors/Officers with any information or suggestions to end the Feres doctrine injustice. Remember the 1950 U.S. Supreme Court, in creating the Feres doctrine, stated it is Congress who holds the ready remedy to correct the incident to service holding as set forth in the Feres decision. Although, VERPA asserts it is the U.S. Supreme Court who should remedy its decision; it is apparent this will not happen and all U.S. Military, Veterans and Families must compel the U.S. Congress to act and remedy the unconstitutional Feres doctrine.
We look forward to hearing from you with any input you might have to advance the VERPA Act! We also reserve the right to amend, extend or revise this Status Report to better serve our supporters and legislative initiatives.
VERPA Vice-Chair/Legislative Coordinator