|DISCLAIMER: We have no affiliation with either the Veterans Administration or ‘VA is Lying’.
As Roger Gagnon makes claims that the Veterans Administration is being unfair, has Gagnon been unfair to the VA? Does the ‘VA is Lying’ organization really know who they are getting behind as a spokesman? Are they setting themselves up for a huge embarrassment? Who is this man that is getting out in front of a national movement?
Roger Paul Gagnon Jr. has earned a place as spokesman for the “VA is LYING, VETERANS ARE DYING” movement by his work and his recent purchase of several billboards out of his own pocket. The cost of the two billboards that Gagnon purchased was over $2000.
Gagnon proudly displays his service cap for service in Beirut, Lebanon.
In the WFTV interview (1:15 mark), Gagnon implies that due to the VA wait times, “ultimately he collapsed on a road just outside his home” as a result of seizures. He spent weeks in a coma.
The message is certainly a powerful one with all of the problems with the VA. It resonates with anyone that has experienced delays in their care combined with the alarming rate of suicides among veterans. Is this all the fault of the VA? How has Gagnon’s background and experience contributed to him being out front of this cause besides the money that he has personally spent?
What truth lies beneath the surface?
THE MAN, HIS SERVICE & HIS MESSAGE
Roger Gagnon is well known to the Beirut community. This community consists of Beirut Veterans and family members that were affected by the loss of life and disabilities that came as a result of the US involvement in Beirut, Lebanon in 1982-1984.
THE MAN – BEHAVIOR PATTERNS
Gagnon came on the scene with a few Beirut Facebook groups a few years ago. He identified himself as a member of Battalion Landing Teams (BLT) 2/8 and 2/6. His posts immediately took the direction of making the case that the VA has forgotten about Beirut veterans.
A few weeks later, things took a strange turn.
Evidenced by the 304 comments, an immediate panic swept over the community. Not many knew Roger or where he lived, but the entire Beirut community rallied to get information as this all implied suicide. Phone calls were made, police were contacted, people dropped what they were doing that lived in the Texas area to try and identify anyone that could drop in on Roger.
When he was found to be OK, he claimed everyone misread his post.
Behind the scenes, several felt that it was unfair to stir everything up like that and then chastise people for reacting. Although peculiar, Gagnon is a Beirut brother so it was overlooked.
Upon his recovery he posted some service claims that raised some eyebrows and he explained it away by saying he took an overdose of pills.
The next year, Gagnon got 100% disability, unemployable rating and back pay from the VA.
In April of 2015, there was another episode with Gagnon, this time in Florida.
Friends were desperate for answers as to what was happening and how they could help. Someone posted a summary of what happened.
Early reports were that he was unconscious and unresponsive after taking pills. He was taken to the hospital and remained in a coma for two weeks. After recovery, Gagnon claimed that the episode was a result of having been given the wrong medication by the VA.
. . . . .
HIS SERVICE – CIVILIAN AND MILITARY BACKGROUND
Gagnon’s service claims and behavior were a concern with the community of Beirut veterans and family members. Several saw his behavior as self-destructive but were relieved that he was getting the help that he needed. Some casual inquiries into his background were initiated.
. . . . .
He had served some time in prison and had some pretty serious charges to his name.
. . . . .
Gagnon’s official service records show that he was indeed in Beirut, Lebanon in 1982 and 1983. He served with 2/8 and then 2/6. However, it appears that he had disciplinary problems dating as far back as 1982. Enough so that he was removed from his Guard MOS (8151) and assigned to a Automotive Mechanic (3521) MOS in early 1982.
Then after Gagnon’s time in Beirut, he came back to the U.S. and is discharged, reenlists, assigned to Charlie Co, then Supply Co, then goes Unauthorized Absence (UA).
Gagnon is declared a deserter and while on that status the bombing of the Marine Corps Barracks happens on 23 Oct 1983. Elements of Gagnon’s unit, BLT 2/6, were immediately sent back to Beirut to replace men that were lost in the bombing.
Perhaps this was a factor with Gagnon, but he shows back up just in time for the Marine Corps birthday on 10 Nov 1983. He is then transferred to the brig for confinement. Upon release from the brig months later he goes UA once more never to be seen again. He is declared a deserter for a second time on 27 Jan 1984 and eleven months later is discharged on 17 Dec 1984 in absentia.
In the WFTV news broadcast, Gagnon is referred to as a “retired Marine”. There is reason to believe that Gagnon may have went back to the Marine Corps years later and had his “Other Than Honorable” discharge changed and may have even received a medical retirement.
The focus then moved to the VA. Most likely after considerable negotiation, Gagnon eventually received a 100% disability rating and all of the associated back pay. Some of this back pay was most likely used to fund the very billboards that in turn criticize the very VA that helped Gagnon.
The irony is extremely heavy.
. . . . .
Many Beirut veterans observe Gagnon’s behavior and feel that both the Marine Corps and the Veteran’s Administration took care of Gagnon when he needed them. At the same time, when Gagnon’s unit needed him in 1983 he was a deserter. It is difficult to now watch as Gagnon complains about the VA.
Who can know another man’s heart? Maybe it is all about his fellow man, but Gagnon’s past behavior leaves many in the Beirut community of veterans and family members to wonder if he is the best voice of advocacy for veteran issues.
FOIA RESULTS – COMPLETE
SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION
Some of Roger Gagnon’s military claims and their status are listed briefly below:
Maybe Roger Gagnon has turned his life around and channeled his energy into helping others?
Some within the Beirut community have praised his efforts and gotten behind him.
Other Beirut veterans are skeptical and with good reason. Roger Gagnon’s message no doubt resonates with some. There are also some that have had good experiences with the VA, other that have not had enough experiences to weigh in on the discussion, and others that have had no experiences.
The U.S. intervention in Beirut has been mostly forgotten about and some of its veterans have stated that they don’t want to be remembered for bad mouthing the VA. Who can blame them?
In a strange way, Beirut Veterans and all veterans may have a stake in Roger Gagnon’s success.
The “VA is LYING” effort would do well in proceeding with caution with Gagnon out front. They may have a situation that is a house of cards waiting to implode. It also could hold together long enough to achieve their goals. Only time will tell.
As Gagnon says often — we’ll see you on the other side.
PHOTOS and SOCIAL MEDIA
. . . . .
. . . . .
This Ain’t Hell: http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=61854