In the past two years we at Veterans Today have been following and reporting on Department of Veterans Affairs attempts to cut costs by shredding or otherwise destroying Veterans claims mostly for PTSD.
The lawsuit CREW v. U.S. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs stems from CREW’s FOIA request for documents related to the VA’s policy of under-diagnosing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), after an email was revealed in which VA employee Norma Perez discussed this policy.
Most recently the VA claimed it had produced everything it had despite the fact that it had not even turned over Norma Perez’s email or – despite public outcry and congressional hearings on the matter – any other records referring to the email.
As a result, CREW argued the VA’s search clearly had been inadequate and, amazingly, the agency said that it couldn’t locate the email because it was destroyed in 2008, months after CREW filed both its FOIA request and this lawsuit. In fact, all the VA’s backup tapes were destroyed, including the one containing the Perez email. The VA says it cannot produce any emails predating December 9, 2008.
Based on the destruction of the records, CREW has asked the Court to let us depose VA employees who may have known exactly what the VA was doing about PTSD and the extent to which the agency refused to provide proper medical care for veterans with PTSD.
Anne Weismann, CREW’s chief counsel, stated, “It is incredible that with all of the public outrage and concern over this issue, the VA took no steps to preserve important records. This smacks of a cover-up to avoid liability for a disgraceful policy that deprived our nation’s veterans of appropriate health care.” Weismann continued, “The VA is not above the law; like all other agencies, it cannot simply destroy documents that have been requested under the FOIA just because those documents may cast the agency in a bad light.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org, or contact Matt Jacob at (202) 408-5565 or [email protected].
Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I’ve posted on Veterans Today, I’ve had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner.
My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me.
Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000.
I’ve been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I’m now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house.
I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.