by Ed Coghlan
A veteran with chronic pain wants to talk to his Congressman—and another attempt to do that on Monday failed.
Robert Rose is a 51-year old Marine who believes the Mountain Home VA Center in Johnson City, Tennessee has been denying him care and has been quite vocal about it,
Congressman Roe was scheduled to speak at the Mountain Home VA Center at 11 am—and Rose–well known to the VA authorities because of his protests about his care—arrived early, he said, to speak with other veterans.
Rose called me and told me that he had been told by the VA law enforcement people that he would be arrested if he said anything at the Congressional hearing and asked me what I should do.
“I told him I was a reporter not an advocate and it wasn’t my job to advise him about that–but let me know what happened.”
That call came at 9:41 EDT.
My phone rang again at 9:57 and again it was Rose who told me he was being escorted into the building by three officers–and I asked him to put me on speaker. We were on the phone for nearly 30 minutes to hear the exchange between Rose and VA law enforcement.
A VA policeman, later identified as Sergeant King, said to Rose,
“You are not being arrested,” but he was being urged to come with them to discuss the situation.
Sgt. King wanted to know who I was and said I could not record a conversation on federal grounds and wanted to end the phone call. I assured him I wasn’t and if I was recording anything I would have to let him know that and he agreed to let me continue to listen.
Essentially Sgt. King told Rose that he had received a complaint about him yelling and being disruptive at the Congressman’s entourage.
Rose, with some passion, explained that he was 30 feet from the roadway (a fact confirmed by a VA official) and wasn’t even on the sidewalk and that he had been talking with a fellow vet and his wife.
Rose asked twice (and I asked a third time) who had made the complaint and Sgt. King said he couldn’t say.
Later when I asked him, the Sergeant said that the “Congressman’s staff felt on edge,” but did not elaborate.
Rose, who is in a wheelchair, was told that they didn’t want to arrest him and was asked essentially to behave.
During the speech, he behaved but he silently protested.
During Congressman Roe’s speech, Rose, sitting in his wheelchair, turned his back on the Congressman–who by the way in an Army veteran himself and–importantly–Chairman of the House Committee on Veteran Affairs.
After the speech, Rose said his path to the Congressman was blocked by the VA Police and he wasn’t allowed to speak to him.
I asked Rose if he had any photos and he said that he was told he would have been arrested had he taken any, although local media did attend and took photos and video.
Rose, who said he’s lost count of how many times he’s tried to speak with Congressman Roe, believes the VA Police were trying intimidate him and illegally detained him before the meeting.
The National Pain Report called Roe’s office in Kingsport, but received a recording because they are on holiday today and tomorrow (July 4).
If they call back, we’ll let you know what they say.