“SMOKE AND MIRRORS”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 27, 2016) — More than 70 days ago, the first power of attorney (POA) for a U.S. Army soldier injured in 2013 filed a request for the soldier’s medical records from Walter Reed National Medical Center but has thus far not been able to obtain them.
The soldier alleges that on April 29, 2013, he was sexually assaulted followed by an attempt on his life committed by four contractors working in or around Ft. Lee, in Petersburg, VA, where he was stationed at the time.
On June 7, the POA filed a request for an investigation at whitehouse.gov into why the medical records have not been released and received a response via certified letter on July 18, 2016 from Col. Christopher Boyle dated July 5, 2016. The postmark on the envelope of July 15, 2016 shows that it was mailed ten days after it was authored.
In a recent interview, the POA told The Post & Email that Boyle’s response was incomplete and inaccurate in some instances, particularly when it asserted that the soldier’s report of sexual assault “was never disclosed in the clinical setting and therefore was not documented in his medical notes.”
The letter does, however, acknowledge that the soldier “sustained significant injuries” on April 29, 2013, the date the soldier alleges the sexual assault and murder attempt took place in Petersburg, VA.
The soldier was transferred to Ft. Lee following his reports of misconduct among his former chain of command, an Army chaplain, several officers’ wives and his own wife in South Korea, where he was stationed in 2012. While at Ft. Lee in early 2013, the Army took steps to discharge him by placing him in the “medical board” process, claiming that he was “schizophrenic” and “delusional.”
The soldier’s former wife, who he alleged took part in inappropriate relationships with the officers and their wives in Korea, accused him of rape and other offenses totaling 32 alleged violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which Boyle’s letter reports have been removed from the soldier’s consideration for “transition.”
After continuing to speak out about what allegedly occurred in Korea, on April 29, 2013, the soldier was reportedly sexually assaulted, burned with cigarettes, thrown into moving traffic, where he landed on a car windshield, and robbed. His identity was later reported stolen and used to obtain $13,000 in loans which the soldier has been repaying over the ensuing three years despite his POA’s timely report of ID theft while the soldier was hospitalized for a traumatic brain injuryat Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center).
The letter from Boyle reads:
The Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) oddly “denied” the claim of fraud filed by the soldier, claiming it performed a “thorough investigation” of the matter but providing no documentation as to how it reached its alleged conclusion. The soldier’s POA has appealed that decision and received a form letter by email in reply.
As The Post & Email reported on July 13, the Petersburg Bureau of Police sought to interview the soldier for the first time about the 2013 incident directly after publication of its initial article detailing the soldier’s allegations dated July 6.
An attorney representing Walter Reed and the Warrior Transition Brigade, Jennifer Giambastiani, via Ft. Belvoir due to Walter Reed’s Judge Advocate staff not being equipped to handle these issues, originally said she could not communicate with the POA because the POA had allegedly retained legal counsel but backtracked on that claim last week.
On June 20, the soldier was released to take leave with his family for the first time in three years with the caveat that he call in by Skype twice daily so that Walter Reed’s Warrior Transition Bridgade’s Command could witness his administration of their prescribed medications, which his POA believes are harming him. He returned to Walter Reed on July 8.
The soldier’s family wishes Dr. Angela Gilbert, a psychologist formerly employed at Walter Reed, to assume responsibility for coordinating the soldier’s ongoing care, but the POA reports that Walter Reed refuses to recognize or honor Dr. Gilbert’s expertise.
In a July 20 interview with The Post & Email, the POA said of the unwillingness of Walter Reed to release the soldier’s records:
What do you do when Patient Relations won’t help? What do you do when the Inspector General’s representative won’t help? What do you do when they’re covering for the doctor and breaking federal laws again? I have bits and pieces of records here, but 70 days out, we’re trying to find out where the complete records are. Anyone can go to Walter Reed and ask to see his records right there. You will pay for the copying, but it does not take 70 days to get them.
In a May 12 multi-command meeting, Williamson told me that he doesn’t have to give me records, and I have witnesses who can testify that he said this. I have documentation that I asked for the medical records on May 7, 2016 and again on May 12, 2016; they were signed for on May 12, 2016. On July 12, 2016 I emailed Jennifer Giambastiani, the Fort Belvoir attorney speaking on behalf of Walter Reed, who sent an email response that “they are checking on the records.” As of July 26, 2016, I have received no medical records from Walter Reed and no follow-up.
I did a test and reached out to several hospitals to try to obtain my own medical records, and those hospitals said, “Sure, come over and you can look at them and sign them out per HIPAA.” Speaking autonomously, when asked if it takes 70 days, one lady laughed and said, “No, they are electronic; all you have to do is print and mail a release form and the patient can pick them up.” I asked if I could dispute what’s in my medical records, and she said, “You sure can, and you should if you don’t agree.”
I took it a step further and showed an impartial psychologist some of the soldier’s diagnoses; he/she stated that ANY honest and impartial psychologist or psychiatrist can tear apart Williamson’s report due to the inaccurate statements and things that just don’t make sense.
The POA has requested a meeting with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has been briefed on the alleged sexual assault and supports a bill to “hold assailants accountable in order to maintain good order and discipline” within the military. The POA further expressed a desire to testify before the U.S. Senate. “This is what she says she fights for, so I sent Sen. Gillibrand a message stating, ‘I want a meeting with you. I want to go before the Senate to give sworn statements,'” the POA told us. “That’s going to separate the liars from those telling the truth.”
The POA stated that the soldier’s former Walter Reed physician, Dr. Williamson, has “screamed” at him/her during meetings and refused to allow recordings to be made of meetings and telephone calls. “He’s the only one who refuses,” the POA said. “The intent has always been there: he wasn’t going to give me the medical records; he wasn’t going to put his statement in there, because he was covering up what had happened.”
After publication of its initial article, The Post & Email contacted Williamson for comment but received no response.
The POA further said:
What does the colonel mean, that it wasn’t “disclosed in a clinical setting?” Dr. Williamson had been the soldier’s doctor for four years and I have the emails from the nurses where he refused to remove himself as the soldier’s doctor. The soldier’s spiritual adviser sat in during two meetings when the soldier told Williamson what happened to him, so how much time does he need to put this in his record, or at least to say, ‘According to the soldier…’ or have the soldier notarize a statement and put it in his record?
[Editor’s Note: The Post & Email spoke with the spiritual adviser on Tuesday.]
The law says that I can refute anything that is in my medical records, and I can add a statement disputing anything that I want to. But the position Williamson has taken is that the soldier’s records belong to him, and this is why he will not release them when I originally asked for them. He flat-out said that he doesn’t have to release them.
Our exchanges are verbal and written. I believe there was never an intent to release the records, and now we’re trying to play cleanup and catch-up (spoliation). These are federal crimes. HIPAA applies to everybody; it doesn’t matter if you’re a military doctor or a civilian doctor.
The fact that the medical records are right at Walter Reed; the spiritual adviser is right in the area, is also a power of attorney and has asked multiple times for the records, only to be blocked, is very telling. Forget Touchstone and the other places where the soldier was treated: I want the records Dr. Williamson wrote. These are the records which will determine the soldier’s DD-214 (discharge summary) and benefits when he gets out of the military. I want to know what Dr. Williamson wrote.
Now I’m going to hold the director’s feet to the fire, because he is the commanding officer over all of Walter Reed. I have emails where I went to Patient Relations and the Inspector General’s representative and nobody would go up against Dr. Williamson. What is the point of Patient Relations if they’re not going to do the right thing? Even more so, what is the point of an Ombudsman if the IG is not going to do anything?
I’ve filed a claim with the Office of Civil Rights, and I have a letter from the State of Maryland responding to my complaint against Dr. Williamson, but no one has given me a disposition. This is about exposure; if you put it out there enough, someone is going to see it, and someone is going to finally say, “What is really going on?”
When it comes to medical and federal funding, someone is going to have to answer at Tricare. There’s a grievance procedure whereby you can complain about the care when someone uses Tricare which I’ve utilized. Now all of a sudden, I was told by Christian Bremby from Tricare South that they’ve already turned it back over to Walter Reed.
I’ve told them that that’s a waste of time, because I’ve already complained to everyone at Walter Reed for their stonewalling. I asked Tricare to include in their response letter their media contact person that I need to speak to because I plan to post this with the media. Tricare is only a military contractor, but we are talking about a massive waste of federal dollars for sending the soldier to so many places on the premise that he needs “24-hour care” when he doesn’t.
He doesn’t need to be supervised 24 hours; he’s very functional, very able to take care of himself, and very articulate. When he visited us on leave, he had the downstairs and the rest of the family was upstairs. He went jogging on his own; went to the store, whatever he wanted to do. Nobody was supervising and treating him like a hostage.
They wasted all this money for him to go to four facilities and there’s been no progress, only deterioration? We’ve had “command” meetings where they’ll call me and have me on the phone and maybe another family member, but there are 20 or 30 military people trying to intimidate me. During those meetings, I’m expressing to them what the family wants, but Williamson will say, “If I say he’s suicidal, he’s suicidal.” Just because he said it doesn’t mean that it’s true.
The soldier was living in an apartment on his own while at the Touchstone facility. I have an email from him that said when he was in San Antonio, he was taking the bus and using bus passes; he was taking a cab, going wherever he wanted to go. Then when we got into a meeting with Williamson, they said, “Yes, he was in an apartment, but…” There’s no “but.” He was on his own. Even though it was at a facility, he didn’t have anyone standing over him 24 hours a day. Again, we are talking about a waste of funding.
Now, he has a CNA, and the soldier says that all they do is sit there and sleep all day long. They fired his spiritual adviser, who is on the contract, but that’s two different funds. Tricare pays for one and the DOD is paying for the other one. Giambastiani, the Fort Belvior attorney representing Walter Reed, stated in an email that “We don’t have fiscal authority to pay an NMA” (non-medical attendant). There’s an entire regulation from the DoD on NMAs. The spiritual adviser is under contract as the NMA and has yet to be given anything in writing revoking the contract. The spiritual adviser takes the soldier shopping, something the CNAs can’t do. He takes him to church. The CNAs in this case are a waste of federal funds.
This brings up the issue of federal habeas corpus.
All of a sudden, they gave him 100% disability on his VA ratings, but they left out the part where his due process rights were violated, because he never got to say what happened to him. They also won’t talk about the charges that were trumped up against him.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.