Dear President-elect Trump:
I am writing this open letter to you as one of this nation’s many disabled combat veterans in time for Veterans’ Day, to remind you of your campaign promise of September 16, 2016 that veterans should come first in the country they fought to protect, and under a Trump Administration they will.
I am also writing to you as one of this nation’s many veterans to remind you of your pledge on November 9, 2016, where you stated, “I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans,” and “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”
As a disabled combat veteran, Mr. President-elect, I am not asking to come first in the country I fought to protect.
What I am asking for is to be made equal to those who did not fight to protect this country, which, of course, was their right as American citizens.
And in asking for equality under the law as an American citizen, I am writing to you to bring your attention as Chief Magistrate of this nation to the issue of state-sponsored discrimination against PTSD veterans for political purposes.
By way of background, Mr. President-elect, on 10 April 2014, I wrote to your predecessor Hon. Barack Obama, United States President, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, in relevant part as follows with respect to comments made by President Obama at Fort Hood the day before as reported by CNN, where President Obama stated he would ensure that “we will continue to step up efforts” to help soldiers returning from war and that we “never stigmatize those who have the courage to seek help,” which was a direct reference to soldiers and veterans with PTSD.
My letter of 10 April 2014 informed President Obama that in fact, and I am the living proof, in New York state, “stigmatization” of veterans, or “branding,” is a powerful political weapon in the hands of corrupt politicians in this state against whistleblowers, and I know this because I had such a powerful political weapon used against me here in my home town of Poestenkill, New York, as well as the County of Rensselaer in New York state, and the State of New York itself, and to this day, without a shred of evidence to back it up, I have been branded by the New York state and federal government as being a mentally-ill, dangerous person who cannot live safely in society, which deprives me in my home and community and state of the same safety and security that you are calling for, for veterans.
I informed President Obama in that writing that for me, this never-ending nightmare of being stigmatized by the government of New York state and its political subdivisions actually began back on January 10, 1988, when the Albany, New York Times Union newspaper, the newspaper of record for New York’s capital of Albany, ran a story by Laurie Anderson entitled “Developers see a zealot in new county health officer” wherein was stated as follows:
Plante is the focus of a political controversy fueled by the Democratic majority in the county legislature, including chairman Joseph Manupella, who said he’s concerned many developers may not be getting a fair shake and may start looking outside the county.
Plante contended that, unlike some of his predecessors, he knows the regulations well and will not bend the state health laws.
He contended some developers are upset because they are no longer “free and loose” to do what they want in Rensselaer County.
Plante is involved in several fierce feuds with developers, the most public of which involves Anderson, who is attempting to rally the county legislature, Buono, and the state Health Department to make Plante more compliant.
I then informed the President of the United States of America that because I wouldn’t take bribes, nor would I honor bribes taken by “powerful” men in Rensselaer County, I now live in a state of continual fear without protection of law in New York state.
That is my personal reward for standing up for this nation in a time of war, and for standing up for its law and regulations and those who should have been protected by them, after my time of military service for this nation was over.
In that writing to President Obama, I stated “Because I would not take bribes, Mr. President, in the words of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in early-1989, I upset ‘some of the most powerful men in Rensselaer County,’ and my boss, the Rensselaer County public health director, could no longer ‘protect’ me.”
I continued by stating, “Think on that for a moment if you will, Mr. President, because as a responsible public official in a law enforcement capacity in Rensselaer County, I would not take bribes, or honor bribes taken by other Rensselaer County public officials, I was going to be forced to run from my home and go away for awhile because I was going to find Rensselaer County is going to be a very uncomfortable place for myself to stay.”
“And how true that was to turn out to be.”
“Returning to the issue of my stigmatization as a disabled Viet Nam combat veteran with PTSD, the same evening I was told that I had upset some of the most-powerful men in Rensselaer County and could no longer be afforded the equal protection of the law, the then-Rensselaer County Executive John L. Buono appeared on the Chris Kapostasy show on TV-13 out of Menands, New York and announced to the world that I could no longer work for Rensselaer County in my capacity as associate public health engineer because I was considered mentally ill and dangerous.”
For the record, Mr. President-elect, the Chris Kapostasy who allowed Buono back then to use her show as a platform to destroy my professional reputation by falsely linking PTSD with serious mental illness is the same Christine Ann “Chris” Kapostasy-Jansing who today is an American television news correspondent currently working for NBC News as their Senior White House Correspondent and for the network’s cable division, MSNBC, alongside Brian Williams, as a breaking news anchor and political correspondent.
Returning to my 10 April 2014 letter to President Obama, I continued by stating:
“To my continued horror, on Wednesday, February 22, 1989, the Troy, New York RECORD, the newspaper of record for Rensselaer County in New York state ran an article wherein Deputy Rensselaer County Attorney Gordon Mayo was quoted as follows:”
“Mayo said Plante suffers from a post-combat stress condition that could result in irrational behavior.”
“Plante is a Vietnam veteran.”
“There, Mr. President, is what stigmatization of combat veterans with PTSD as a means of political retaliation looks like in real life.”
“Because I would not take bribes, I was publicly branded by Rensselaer County as being ‘irrational.’”
“That label, which was pinned on myself and every other Viet Nam veteran, as well, has destroyed my life to this day.”
“Any hopes I might have had for being a good, productive American citizen, perhaps a person in the middle class, upon my return to this country from Viet Nam disappeared in smoke that day when that news article was published.”
“All the years I spent rehabilitating myself as a productive citizen upon my return from Viet Nam, the years I spent in engineering school, the hours I spent getting a master’s degree on a fellowship from the USEPA so I could be a responsible public servant in America were all for naught, Mr. President.”
“Sadly, for me and for all other Viet Nam veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD who have been branded by this Deputy Rensselaer County Attorney Mayo as suffering from a post-combat stress condition that could result in irrational behavior, we shall suffer from this stigmatization for the rest of our lives, and for me, no help from the federal government has been forthcoming, nor based on my experience since this nightmare began, will such aid and comfort be forthcoming, and as a responsible American citizen, I wanted to take a moment to bring this injustice to your attention as our chief executive officer.”
With all of that said by myself on the subject of exploitation of PTSD as a potent political weapon of retaliation by the state of New York, the reply of United States President Barack Hussein Obama to that writing of mine is as follows:
THE WHITE HOUSE 5 AUGUST 2014
Thank you for writing, and for your service and sacrifice.
I appreciate the thoughtful messages I receive from Americans with deeply‑held views that may not always align with mine.
Dialogue on a broad range of issues is critical to moving forward in areas that matter to all of us.
When we disagree, even fiercely, it doesn’t mean we don’t each love this country and want to make it better.
As it has for more than two centuries, progress comes in fits and starts.
It’s not always a straight line or a smooth path, and recognizing we have shared hopes and dreams won’t end all gridlock, solve all problems, or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus.
But we must find common ground and make difficult compromises to reach a better tomorrow.
Again, even if we don’t see every issue the same way, I want you to know I am listening and I appreciate your perspective.
That, Mr. President-elect, is nothing more than empty soundbites mixed in with a good dose of pure gibberish!
That is what I got from the president of the United States of America for my trouble.
I am hoping that you will take this matter much more seriously than did President Obama, and that you will take stern measures as U.S. President to end this abuse of combat veterans who stand for law and order, and as a result, have their PTSD used as a potent political weapon against them to destroy their reputation when they, like me, refuse to take bribes or be corrupt.
Thanking you in advance for your serious attention to this matter, I remain
Paul Plante, RVN 1969