House Veterans' Affairs chairman seeks records on shooters
DALLAS - The chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs has broadened his request for information on two former soldiers involved in mass shootings in Texas and Louisiana.
In a letter Tuesday to the secretary of Veterans Affairs, Florida Rep. Jeff Miller requested a briefing on all VA services received by Army reservist Micah Johnson, who shot and killed five Dallas cops and wounded nine other law enforcement officers in a July 7 attack on a peaceful downtown protest rally.
Miller asked for similar records last week on Gavin Long, the former Marine and Iraq war veteran who killed three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 17.
The attacks followed protests sparked by the deaths of two black men - Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota - by white police officers.
The Republican congressman requested "unredacted" copies of Johnson's full medical records and VA claims files. Johnson was an Army reservist who served eight months in Afghanistan before being sent home after a fellow soldier filed a sexual harassment complaint against him. He ultimately received an honorable discharge from the military, but the Pentagon has refused so far to answer questions about his case.
Friends, former comrades and family described Johnson as a gregarious extrovert who returned from Afghanistan an angry man.
He sought medical care from the Veterans Health Administration for a back injury, but got no help after filling out forms and going to meetings so he "just finally gave up," his mother told TheBlaze, a conservative news site.
VA spokesman James Hutton told The Associated Press that Johnson accessed care three times at Dallas VA Medical Center, the last coming in September 2014.
Long's mother, Corine Woodley, told PBS' Tavis Smiley that her son had post-traumatic stress disorder and unsuccessfully sought the VA's help. Woodley said her son received a letter from the VA denying his request for PTSD treatment in 2013, on grounds that it wasn't related to his military service. She has declined to talk to the AP.
Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a member of the House committee, said Miller was pushing for information.
"It seems there might be something there, but we don't yet know, and the VA is so far stonewalling," Huelskamp said after a town hall meeting Monday in St. Marys, Kansas.
In his letter, Miller suggested the VA combine its briefings on Long and Johnson, and added, "please be advised that the committee will not accept any restriction placed on the information provided at the briefing."