Veteran Sues VA, Claims VA Benefits Withheld After He Criticized VA
- Veteran Sues VA, Claims VA Benefits Withheld After He Criticized VA
ABC 7 News (Chicago)
Sep 19, 2007
September 17, 2007 - A disabled Vietnam era veteran says his
disability benefits were withheld by administrators after he spoke
critically of the handling of benefits claims by the Veterans
Administration and the group Paralyzed Veterans of America.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court Monday, Samuel L. Hennon says he
is a Vietnam era veteran of the U.S. Navy and, since his discharge in
April of 1971, he has received disability benefits "associated with
injuries from his military service."
Hennon also has received benefits -- under the Federal Employment
Compensation Act (FECA) -- as a result of the effects of a flu shot
he was given in 1999, "in association with his duties as a registered
nurse for the Veterans' Administration," the suit says. Hennon has
been a registered nurse for the VA since 1972. The flu shot he
received in 1999 resulted in his contracting Guillan Barre Syndrome --
a nervous system disorder which can increase in intensity until the
person is almost totally paralyzed -- "and other related ailments
preventing him from continuing in his employment."
Hennon's service-connected disabilities were submitted for review and
occasional update by defendants Bo Rollins, Director of Field
Services, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and Charles Ed Rogers,
National Field Director for PVA, the suit says. At the same time,
Hennon has "acted as a representative and advocate for other veterans
in the obtaining of benefits to which they are entitled," according
to the suit.
"In connection with his advocacy on behalf of other veterans," Hennon
says he "has been a vocal critic of the handling of veterans'
benefits claims by both the VA and PVA. As he assisted more veterans
in their claims and expressed increased criticism of the handling of
those claims by the VA and PVA, defendants began to interfere with
the updates of benefits [he] received based on his service-connected
disabilities and [his] FECA benefits."
The suit alleges Rollins, Rogers and Michael Stephens, Veterans
Service Center Manager for the VA, have "acted to withhold increases
in benefits to which [Hennon] was entitled because of his advocacy
and criticism." The suit also claims Hennon has "been denied
increased service-connected disability benefits and FECA benefits be
defendants' actions to deprive him of his rights to those benefits."
Since his criticisms of the VA and PVA are protected speech, the
alleged actions by Rollins, Rogers and Stephens are a violation of
Hennon's first amendment rights, the suit contends.
The suit seeks unspecified damages.
It has been too long since I have posted any messages on the websites
of the Veteran activists. Fighting the Federal Government can have a
chilling effect on you as the resources that are available to them to
punish, harass and destroy the life and family of a veteran who
doesn't go along with the program are inexhaustible and at the
taxpayers' expense. But the time has come...the evidence is accurate
and obtainable...the VA is vulnerable...and the sorte has been
launched by me. Why is my suit so important? Because I have found a
way to bring VA out of its own courts and into the light of day in
Federal District Court and a jury trial. The government is
scrambling now because they see their case is weak, they have
motioned to stop all discovery to prevfent me from opening the
records of VA and they have filed for a motion to dismiss the case
I worked for VA for 22 years...I know my adversary. When I filed my
complaints with the powers at be and my political position on
veterans rights became known to them it took them exactly 45 days to
reduce my disability from 100% to 60%. This retaliation by VA with
the help of Paralyzed Veterans of America was predicated on my
complaints and my politics which is protected speech, thus a
violation of my 1ST Amendment Rights to free and uncensored speech.
This is a violation of the Constitution of the United States of
America, my veteran brothers, and it is a case that the VA court has
no jurisdiction over. The VA is represented by the U.S. Attorney for
the Northern District of Illinois.
But I come to the surface now because I need your help! Any veteran
who has received encouragement, advise, comfort or any other help by
my words on the internet must send an email stating that to me or my
lawyer, Armand Andry. Such support from the grass roots would seal
the fate of the VA in my case. When I win I will detail to you how
you can take VA to court for Constitutional violations of your
rights. But first I must win...and we are unafraid of the VA at this
time because it is in the news for some violation or atrosity almost
everyday. When it comes out that VA commits crimes against veterans
by subverting the Constitution the VA will be defeated and Congress
will have no regress, but to listen to our positions for manditory
funding and review of the claims procedure and oversite to prevent
government bureaucrats from punishing, harassing and denying
disability for the sake of their own preservation.
E-mail me at week2late@... and tell me who you are by first
name only and what help, however insignificant it may seem, that you
received by interacting with me on the veteran boards. The salvo
this will cause will turn the tide grossly in our favor in the eyes
of the Federal District Judge hearing the case.
If you have question, post them to me on the board here or by e-
mail. I will respond to you.
Semper Fi, long may the Flag wave, up with the veterans cause,
The Corpsman, Samuel Hennon