The Newnan Times-Herald
Newnan, Georgia – December 4, 1996
Beery asked to file brief in
Supreme Court suit against VA
By W. Winston Skinner
Assistant News Editor
Local veteran activist Jere Beery has been asked to file a friend of the court brief in a case aimed at changing the workings of the Department of Veteran Affairs.
Beery has been a vocal critic of the VA health care system for more than a decade. He said that the VA system has made promises to veterans that it cannot keep.
He has kept records of patients who received poor treatment at VA facilities and has documented lengthy waits for service and other facets of VA care that are not typical of the private sector medical system.
Stephen Marozsan of South Bend, IN Is preparing a suit for hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court in which he seeks to remove certain protections given to the VA on Constitutional grounds.
Marozsan said that the protections given to VA constitute “the biggest national conspiracy” in the nation’s history. He said that few people are aware that VA cannot be sued in regular courts for any negligence or abuse of patients.
He said that an 1857 law that is still in effect limits compensation to a lawyer suing VA to $10 per case. The two laws in combination make it almost impossible to challenge the Constitutionality of the VA’s position.
Marozsan said this week that the current laws allow VA to allocate disability rating for servicemen based on a quota rather than on objective data. As a result, he said, thousands of veterans are “getting defrauded out of their disability compensation.”
Marozsan is “the only one who has been able to keep the Veterans Administration in the courts for 15 years,” he said. He said that no court to date has really examined “how the system was set up.”
The Economy Act of 1933 included a clause that “no veteran could have access to the federal courts” for claims against VA, he said. That clause was found unconstitutional, but similar language was included in a 1940 bill and has remained law since.
There is a Court of Veteran Appeals to hear complaints against the VA. Those courts can advise the VA with opinions or make suggestions, but cannot order VA to change policy or compensate victims, Marozsan said.
As far as the Indiana veteran is concerned, the Court of Veteran Appeals changes nothing. “They are powerless,” he said of veterans having problems with VA. The court has “no power to correct,” he said.
“I’ve got to go to Constitutional laws” to challenge the current VA procedures, Marozsan said.
While Marozsan wants to change the way VA works for everyone, he has a personal stake in the case. He is a disabled veteran, but feels that his condition was not accurately evaluated by the VA.
He said that he receives $170 per month from VA “without any opportunity to ever be gainfully employed. He said that his studies have shown him that he is not alone, and he feels that strengthens his case.
The Supreme Court “doesn’t care if there’s only one or two veterans who are getting slighted,” he said. Marozsan said he asked Beery to submit an amicus curiae brief because of Beery’s knowledge of the VA system and because Beery is a Vietnam veteran.
Marozsan served in World War II. He said that in his case he wants to show that all living veterans – past, present and future – are not given the rights of other people with regard to medical care. “The Gulf War veterans are now being put into the same grinding system,” he said.
“The overall picture has never been exposed to the American people,” Marozsan said. He said that the Constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law are violated by VA regulations.
Beery said that a veteran who does not receive good medical care at a VA facility “should have the right to sue.” He agreed with Marozsan that the complexity and size of the VA system makes it hard to fight, especially for veterans who have no other option for health services.
“They hold all the marbles. They hold everything,” he said.
Beery said that veterans have generally been stoic about VA’s rules. Their military training reinforces the idea of carrying on despite difficulties. He said that the large number of veteran service organizations has also kept veterans from having a single powerful voice to stand up for their needs.
The immensity of the situation – and the potential cost of a reformed system has made it untouchable politically. “None of the politicians want to be the one to do it,” said Beery, who lives north of Newnan.
Marozsan said that he has been able to keep his case in court because he lives near the Notre Dame University Law School. He said that he has spent the past 20 years poring over law books and case records in the law school library.
He is representing himself in his current suit, which has been around since 1986 in one form or another.
Marozsan said that at one time a professor at Notre Dame planned to file a class action suit on behalf of all veterans challenging VA’s rules. “So much pressure came down on the university” that the professor changed his mind, Marozsan said.
Beery has enumerated a number of differences between medical care in the VA system and private sector care. The VA system often requires veterans to travel a long distance for care, and the wait for service on arrival is “many times longer than in the private sector,” Beery said.
A veteran cannot choose his own doctor and must pay out of his own funds for a second opinion. The lack of a legal right to use due process in disagreeing with a VA decision or challenging the treatment methods in a particular case shield the cabinet level agency from accountability.
“Ted Bundy has more right than a veteran to have his case heard,” Beery said. Marozsan said he must have his case ready to present to the court by Feb. 1.
[NOTE:] The Supreme Court refused to hear the Marozsan Case and the issue was never addressed. Steve Marozsan still lives in South Bend, but he is in very poor health and unable to pursue the matter. Jere Beery can be reached at; firstname.lastname@example.org