BREAKING: Homeland Security Police Caught Harassing Sick Veterans

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Homeland Security

Benjamin KrauseSAN DIEGO – Veterans were horrified while seeking VA health care on Wednesday when approached by Homeland Security police in an Operation Shield exercise. The exercise was for the purpose of “presence deterrence” at a VA health care facility in San Diego. Many veterans’ legal advocates are concerned about what this “presence deterrence” actually means and what it seeks to accomplish for veterans needing care.

According to reports, 20 officers from the DHS Federal Protective Service (FPS) dressed in full black combat gear crowded at the entrance of VA Mission Valley Health Care Clinic on Wednesday. These officers were not wearing any name tags and refused to identify themselves. Four bomb-sniffing dogs accompanied the secretive police group that arrived at the facility in 8 white SUVs marked “FPS”, which then blocked all access to parking for disabled veterans. Veterans arriving for care were alarmed and some frightened away.

VA Mission Valley Health Care Clinic houses numerous service centers including a general practice clinic, psychiatric clinic, PTSD treatment clinic, and the disability compensation evaluation clinic. The impact of this event on veterans is disturbing.

The advocacy group, Honoring Our Troops (HRT), promptly wrote a formal complaint to VA OIG in Washington, DC after fielding numerous communications from veterans who were shocked by these recent federal secret police actions. OIG has yet to formally acknowledge receipt of their complaint since it was filed several days ago.

According to HRT’s OIG complaint, veterans on site were harassed and threatened when they took pictures and asked questions about this bizarre behavior. One veteran was threatened with a fine of $10,000 and arrest if he did not delete a photo he had taken. Another elderly veteran refused to enter the clinic with his wife. When the veteran’s wife asked a VA doctor about the action, she was told it was a “familiarization exercise.” Is this the new normal at VA facilities that veterans must become familiarized with and used to? And why? What justifies this kind of action by the Feds?

Navy Captain Joseph John (Ret), chairman of Combat Veterans For Congress PAC, was not surprised when the report crossed his desk. After a cursory investigation, Capt. John concluded, “Due to [confidentiality] concerns, we can only get personnel in the office of Honoring Our Troops to tell us that the parties who witnessed the exercise [saw. The witnesses included] a retired Navy Chief, employees of the VA Medical Center, patients inside the building, etc., who witnessed armed FPS officers in SWAT gear walking up and down the corridors inside the VA Medical Clinic in Mission Valley.”

Capt. John opposes unannounced police actions at VA medical facilities that resemble “para-military exercises.” His deepest concerns are for elderly veterans with “heart conditions, suffering from PTSD, or elderly Veterans from the WWII or Korean era could be frightened and negatively affected by these [secret police] exercises in the middle of [their medical treatments].” For these reasons, Capt. John believes DHS and its FPS division “should be prevented from holding these para-military exercises at any VA medical Center,” especially during patient treatment and service times during the day.

Since the OIG complaint, HRT received numerous threatening calls to their organization’s volunteers by individuals whom they believed were VA or DHS employees. Callers blasted the organization saying, “VA does not need this type of exposure right now; bringing this up will not help veterans.” Other harassing calls threatened the staff with stalking and investigations into their own personal conduct. According to HRT, the calls were all blocked to hide the caller’s phone number.

A spokesman for the San Diego VA Regional Office, Alejandro Mendio la Flores, verified this FPS police action and stated it was part of Operation Shield for “presence deterrence.” VA claims the official count of FPS officers was only 8, and that the FPS does not owe VA any explanation for its actions or training exercises — even if it affects a VA medical facility or its patients. Nor does DHS-FPS have to give VA any advance notice that these exercises will occur or get VA’s permission to conduct them. Just what is going on here?

VA already has in place a “patient security flag” procedure under VHA Directive 2010-053. Even though this procedure is completely illegal and occurs in secret VAMC staff councils behind closed doors, it is nevertheless the main device VA has created to deal with security issues with any veterans who give them reason to be concerned for potential violent incidents. The VA-OIG made a rather shocking report about this illegal procedure just last year — and any lawyer or judge who reads it would be horrified at the blatant “due process” violations, since veterans cannot know who made the complaints about them or in any way have a chance to refute or defend against false allegations by VA staff. See OIG Report No. 11-02585-129, March 7, 2013.

The questions that beg to be answered are: Why does DHS-FPS and VA think these preemptive “presence deterrence” exercises are needed to enhance or maintain security at VA medical and other facilities? What evidence does DHS-FPS and VA have to think this para-military behavior is even necessary, which puts the health of veterans at risk when they arrive for a wide range of treatments? None of this makes any sense or seems to be well thought out. So what is the meaning of all of this?

Does DHS and VA have such callous disregard that they never considered the harmful impact such presence would have on veterans with serious physical and mental health disabilities for which they are coming to VA to get treatment?

VA constantly asserts they are striving to give veterans the best in health care. If that is true, why did they leave these questions out of their thinking? Is this the new veteran-centric care Secretary Sloan Gibson recently promised to the American public and veterans?

Mr. Mendio la Flores refused to answer additional questions on the concerns relating to whether or not any veterans were in fact harmed by these recent incidents. The House Committee on Veterans Affairs was asked for comment but was not able to reply to this writer prior to publication.

UPDATE 6/16/14: Read and listen to Updates on the DHS Veteran Harassment story here.

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Benjamin Krause is an award winning veterans advocate, investigative reporter, and attorney. He is a disabled veteran of the US Air Force, where he served in its Special Operations Command. Check out recent coverage of his work by Pioneer Press reporter Ruben Rosario, “Veteran has fought the VA, but he’d rather help fix it.” Benjamin was also recently interviewed as a topic expert by Tavis Smiley on the VA Wait List Scandal for National Public Radio.

Connect with Benjamin on  Google+,  Twitter,  Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

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jk
jk

TSA agents? Allowed to carry weapons? WTF were the higher ups in DHS THINKING?!?! Or apparently NOT thinking AT ALL

Frank
Frank

TSA? You are stupid.

zigbs
zigbs

They’re going after us Ben. They’re seeing how we react. Instead of working with Veterans this administration and government wants to fight and keep them down.

The incompetence and cowardliness of this administration is truly without parallel.

If you complain about treatment or a Dr. instead of responding to your complaint like a company would do they can lash out at you, flag you as a risk, and deliver you super crappy care.

The system is COMPLETELY rigged against veterans and this is part of what’s to come. They’ll pass a gun ban for anyone they think is a threat, then they’re going to come for the veterans and their healthcare will prepare the rest for death.

I had this doctor, David Deng, at the San Francisco VA Hospital tell me that VHA was advised by VA benefits to stop writing letters in support of claims or for surgical convalescence and the attitude at the VA towards returning veterans is sickening.

psyops70
psyops70

I think that these dressed in black guys just might find themselves face down and praying to whatever God they believe in if they come upon some vets. I am one of them. I will not bow down or surrender to anyone who does not have authority and ID. It would be war right there on the steps and I guarantee that I would not go down alone. Remember that oath “all foreign and DOMESTIC threats”.

dave domacasse
dave domacasse

this invasion is wrong illegal WHO authorized this ? somebody in power did for sure I like to find out who ! if somebody got killed whos going to answer ? these secret police seem to pop up out of nowhere ? familization exercise ? against who the vets ?

sd
sd

What is even more disgusting is the fact the hundreds of illegals are now being housed on US military bases while this is going on and thousands of veterans are homeless.

Tom Poe
Tom Poe

I live in a small town. On a regular basis, the community meets at the local school to participate in disaster drills. What I think, is there doesn’t need to be any discussion. Arrest the DHS idiots, throw them in jail, and convict them of endangering the lives of veterans. Their sentence can be a simple commitment to participate in pre-planned, community participation exercise in accordance with disaster drills, not presence deterrence drills. I know hundreds of residents that enjoy such exercises, and lots of crazies that don’t need to fake their condition.

namnibor
namnibor

This is SO completely **fuqk’d** that it’s beyond any describable words!! BEN–THE MAIN STREAM MEDIA NEEDS TO LATCH ONTO THIS BECAUSE THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S “CEANER NAMED GIBSON” HAD TO HAVE BEEN FULLY AWARE”…what if several veteran’s had reacted defensively/instinctively against this action? What will be the ramifications of this causing/triggering a Veteran’s PTSD? What if THIS event was the straw that broke the camels proverbial back on someone that was near PTSD but not symptomatic?
THIS REQUIRES ATTENTION! Homeland Security should NOT be using Veteran Healthcare Centers or Veteran’s in any capacity to play their war games!!!! This is obviously passive-aggressive process for Veteran’s speaking our about their outrage and Gibson’s way of handling it in a dumb ass way!!!
Turn the dogs of legal action on these bastURDS!! yeah, I am pissed~!

Kevin
Kevin

And so it begins…

stan
stan

Seems to me this presence deterrence is needed in our public schools more than at health care facilities where we should expect to be secure from agency threats. I hope there is some critical piece of information missing, which will provide a reasonable explanation. otherwise we. can expect swat teams at any VA facility, medical or Regional Office.

Luke
Luke

There is. Almost every person who works for this agency is a vet. Terroris deem VAs as soft targets to hit vets.

Paul Dionne
Paul Dionne

They will see how soft a target it is if they try something. The administration is scared of the vets because they know we are willing to do whatever is needed to keep this country safe from domestic terrorists and terrorists from abroad. He is the one the forefathers were thinking of when they said that! If we took the Constitution and threw away all the crap that has been added over time, it would work better than it can with all the crap. GOD BLESS AMERICA, obutthead go home, Kenya is calling!

Dennis
Dennis

I think this has something to do with the current VA scandal that’s going on. The Executives and Bureaucrats realize they’ve ticked off a lot of veterans and they’re scared some ticked off vet is going to come in there and do something to one of them. They go and hire themselves a “goon squad” for protection!

namnibor
namnibor

Kind of like pulling the trigger with a bullet in barrel and expecting it not to go off or…playing “wait and see”. We Veteran’s should not be part of even more “social experimentation” than we have already endeared.

namnibor
namnibor

They sure have done a great job keeping this out of the main stream media or media of ANY sort because I cannot find it anywhere with the (AP) Associated Press searches. This action of HLS was indeed a DOMESTIC THREAT and an overt attack on Veterans, make no doubt about it.
If I were present and those personnel would not show any ID and had no name tags, I actually would have assumed they were indeed domestic terrorists and would probably made the news because they would have shot my ass for reacting because I am type of person that is never allowing someone to take over a plane I am on or otherwise. VA no different.
THAT head of that VA and al above that KNEW should ALSO be fired and SLOAN GIBSON should be fired. While we are at it, this President has irritated me every since he chose to send troops t Afghanistan. History has shown OVER and OVER it’s not a winnable situation with those animals.
Why treat Veterans like we are “non-essential personnel”??? People need to read or re-read George Orwell’s 1984 book because Science Fiction usually has a way of predicting the future or some version of it in reality to come and this action by our government at that VA is spot-on.
WTF?

namnibor
namnibor

Nope, cannot find this with ANY search engine. Silly me…the NSA and HSA and Google and all other search engines are bedfellows these days. Face Book is absolutely no different.

CM
CM

I read these articles and just have to laugh. I work closely with DHS and have been present for Operation Shield exercises. The agencies are normally if not always advised ahead of time and the operation has always been a deterence to crime. Thses officers will willingly identify themselves and know that the law allows photos of them and the federal facilties. In fact a very large portion of these officers are veterans who themselves get care at the VA. Its humorous to see that when people don a uniform to safeguard the people and the Constitution, they suddenly become some secret police force but when civilians gather and do the same its some kind of soveriegenty right. Shame on the author for writing this garbage before checking his facts. This article is a clear attempt to create some kind of public pandimonium just to sell his name.

namnibor
namnibor

Your Kool-Aid must taste really great because you are indeed full of it! ‘Loot’ is ‘Tool’ backwards.

cM
cM

Have you ever been to a VA or had any dealings with these officers? My guess is you have not. Who is really the one drinking the cool aid here?

Rob45
Rob45

Let em arm themselves. It just shows how scared they are of a well trained force of disabled Veterans. Most of us wont even let the VA do surgery as we may not wake back up. But it is good to know ahead of my next visit.

billwhit1357
billwhit1357

Amen, Brother! They are all like their Master, Obama, scared of his own shadow, but put them in full armor and arm them to the teeth, then they become big tough guys harassing sick Veterans! None of them had the testicles to Serve their Nation, but they will willingly turn on their own people!

Piishii
Piishii

They did the same thing in Leesburg, Fl. at their Socail Security Office a couple of years ago. Took people phomes when they took pictures or tried to call 9-11 for help.

William W Mcgraw
William W Mcgraw

Go outside, call all local newspapers, TV and radio stations to report in news with video, photos and reports by veterans as they leave the building. Also call 911 that handicapped parking spaces are blocked or occupied by non-handicapped vehicles. Ask that these vehicles are ticketed and then towed away to an impound. Give them hell. By now they have my name, F**k them as much as possible.

Brooke Doris
Brooke Doris

Of course, if these sites were attack by terrorists, you folks would complain no precautions were taken. Either you want proactive protection or you do not.

dave domacasse
dave domacasse

terrorists give me a break !

Bill Whitfield
Bill Whitfield

Ignorance is shown in your comment and shows you agree with Obama’s perversion of our Laws and Stomping on our Constitution. If your young enough, you should join his Brown Shirts, which is any Alphabet Agency that he has Armed to the Teeth, since he knows our military Hates his Treasonous butt.

Bill King
Bill King

it just amazes me that these people fill their above the law !gaslighting gang stalking is what the San Diego va does best !! I’ve had so many crimes committed against me at the San Diego VA hospital that it just makes me sick one thing for sure there’s a hell of a lot of people get rich off us veterans while most of us remain homeless all I can say is learn as much as you can about gas lighting and gang stalking if you gone to the VA more likely it has happened to you !!some of these people need to be arrested. and charged on crimes against veterans I’ve seen a veteran hang himself off a towel bar in that hospital I’ve seen a veteran jump off the roof I’ve seen a veteran make homemade bomb and blow his head off !! how much more can they cover up and if you must go there record everything there is a lot of nice recording devices out there now ,that they don’t know you’re doing it and when they start lying yes you can use it in a court of law to prove that they lied!!!yours trully bill king. PS shame shame on the San Diego va

Bill Walker
Bill Walker

Everyone is missing the point. This happened because this VA clinic has something huge to hide. They are using guns and force and threats to protect their agenda.

weroinnm
weroinnm

Veterans and members of our Armed Forces under attack!
http://weroinnm.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/veterans-and-members-of-ou
“Food For Thought”
Hello: When Are Americans Going To Wake Up?-God Bless America!
Semper Fi!
Jake

James Bradford
James Bradford

Jake I am awake and I smell the coffee.! Waite that might not be coffee I’m smelling let me go check my under ware. These are scare times we’re living in, I thought we won that war. Gestapo Police what is next, long lines of train cars taking us to a better place.

Darlene C. Matthews
Darlene C. Matthews

hmmm …. too bad no one called a news station so a chopper could have recorded.

mjashcraft2013
mjashcraft2013

They LIKELY would have shot the chopper down. I STAND with my fellow vets. CPO(HM) M.J. Ashcraft, U.S>N> (Ret)

Paul Dionne
Paul Dionne

The VA should be informed prior to ANY exercise like this taking place, and DHS’s failure to do so just goes to prove how much of a rogue agency they are! People tend to forget, the feds work for us and it is just a matter of time till WE get tired of the crap. They can line up every federal cop, shoulder to shoulder, and they will still be outnumbered by caring Americans. Anyone who has not read the book “1984” needs to get it and read it. It is exactly on point about what the government is turning into and the author wrote it back in 1948. Talk about seeing into the future. It is time for use to stand together and take the country back starting at the top and working down. Obutthead is counting on the military staying at their positions when the SHTF but I think he is in for a rude awakening. I do not know of any military that is going to listen to some brainwashed officer issuing commands that would result in the death of American Civilians. They would cross over and stand up for the Constitution, not the rogue government.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!

Jim Hinnant
Jim Hinnant

The VA is part of the regime’s plan…

r. dangerfield
r. dangerfield

Intimidating to veterans. The government clearly wants to hurt us – or worse.

A. Menges
A. Menges

OK smart sass do you want my comment or not. A. Menges 1SG USA Ret

cjpetoskey
cjpetoskey

This does not surprise me in the least. Since the inception of DHS there are many horror stories just not with this particular incident but many. We sat back and patriotically allowed the creation of this “organization” and now we are appalled at what is happening. Of course they are intimidated by veterans, they know how we have been trained and many are with combat experience and tactics. Brace yourselves, this is only the beginning.

Walter Howarth
Walter Howarth

My dearest Brooke, believe me darlin, a VA Hospital is the last place a terrorist would want to enter in this country. His fate would be much worse than the 7 virgins he was promised. It would be UGLY!!!!!

Bill King
Bill King

I am standing my ground when it comes to the San Diego VA hospital and the crimes that we’re committed against me !! if there’s any lawyers out there that can help me please let me know by the way I’ve been going there for 30 years and they denied me a lot of my benefits right from the start shame on the San Diego VA !!but from my experience they even have the lawyers under their thumb!so I’m led to believe that doctors and lawyers make good boat anchors and it sure is coming true!