About that VA letter with regard to guns
A lot of well-meaning folks are sending me links to this piece at "Red Flag" news about how the VA is trying to confiscate the guns of people with PTSD. It's not entirely accurate.
A commenter who goes by the name "GothGuy" at Twitchy explains it better than anyone else.
Having dealt with this extensively when I was a Veterans Advocate, a little clarification is needed. This is not something new, and the VA is not in the gun grabbing business.
What he (the author) has written is misleading on a couple of points (actually, more than a couple). Not just ‘someone in the VA’ can declare a veteran incompetent, the veteran must be diagnosed by a doctor as incompetent during an examination. Once that has happened, the VA does a proposed decision, notifying the veteran of the proposed incompetency, and details with specifics the reason(s) why the proposal is being done. They don’t just get a letter, and it’s a done deal.
The veteran is given 60 days to submit medical evidence as to why the proposal should be overturned. It is a fact that during that 60 day period, the veteran cannot appeal the decision, because the decision hasn’t been finalized, it’s only a proposal or pending decision. Even if the veteran cannot get a letter or statement or other evidence during that time period and the proposal goes into effect, he or she can still appeal that decision, and the VA advises him or her of the appeal process.
I would advise the veteran to get in touch with their doctor and get a statement from him or her stating that the veteran is not incompetent, submit it to the VA, and the proposal would be rescinded.
Further, the author cites the 5th Amendment, well, again, it’s misleading the way he wrote this. The veteran is free to submit evidence, request a pre-determination hearing before being declared incompetent to handle his or her affairs, and trust me, I have participated in those hearing many times over 16 years, and have won virtually all of them prior to the final determination. No 5th Amendment rights are violated.
Also, the author again cites that some nameless person would be appointed by the VA to handle the veterans’ financial affairs. Not true. If the veteran is declared incompetent after all avenues have been exhausted, in virtually all cases, a family member is appointed, and the veteran can even request that a friend be appointed. The VA will interview these people to make sure they understand and agree to be appointed the fiduciary. The only time an outside fiduciary is appointed is if no family member or friend is willing to do it, and that person or agency the VA appoints have under gone extensive background checks, credit checks, etc., and have been approved by the VA.
The VA also has what is called the ‘Guardianship Unit’, which constantly monitors the fiduciaries to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do.
Finally, the author attempts to make this appear widespread, and that is simply not the case. And, even if a veteran has been declared incompetent for years, he or she can always have that decision overturned…seen it…done it.
And trust me, there are some veterans that are so whacked out mentally, that even I wouldn’t want them to have access to a firearm.
As a disabled veteran, Patriot, and as an American, I am a huge advocate of the 2nd Amendment, but what the author wrote is simply scare mongering, and it does a disservice to veterans.
I only have a bit to add to what he wrote. First, this isn't something new, and it's not President Obama that started it. I worked on the Legislative Commission for over 10 years, and was dealing with this issue for at least the last five of those years. In fact, here's a newspaper account from 2007 which even quotes me:
The American Legion also has expressed opposition to the bill. Mark Seavey, a legislative liaison, said it needs to be amended to clarify who would be placed on the no-gun list.
"We would like to see it codified so the only way a veteran would be (put on the list) is if they are deemed a threat to themselves or others, as opposed to another determination through a low-level board or by a single psychologist," Seavey said....
Although the American Legion opposes the bill, Seavey said a number of "misperceptions" are being spread about it on the Internet.
Saying the bill intends to take away veterans' guns is "unfortunate," Seavey said.
"There is no such thing," he said...
"We don't want to attach a stigma for receiving any medication or treatment for PTSD or any other condition," Seavey said.
So here's the real deal....yes, it is happening, but only to people who are adjudicated as being mentally incompetant for purposes of handling their financial dealings. It isn't everyone with PTSD, everyone at 100 percent disability, or anything of the like. If there is someone out there who has been adjudicated incompetant, and is worried about being added to the NICS list, contact us immediately so we can help you.