|Governor Bill Sheffield grins as he walks back to the Capitol building in Juneau flanked by his attorneys John Conway and Philip Lacovara in 1985. (MICHAEL PENN / Anchorage Daily News)|
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Alaska Corruption and the Failed Impeachment of Gov. Bill Sheffield
William Jefferson Sheffield was another father figure governor of Alaska. Elected in 1982, he was the executive for one term—until 1986—and the only one to be impeached.
Perhaps corruption in Alaska at this time was inevitable.
William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States, would be impeached in December, 1998. But the shadow of Richard Nixon’s impeachment in August 9, 1974 hung over the Alaska event involving Sheffield.
Alaskans knew Sheffield in the old days as a bartender. By definition that means he helped some people self-medicate and provided uncertified counseling services. He became a successful hotel owner. Upon election as a bachelor he had a hot tub installed in the Governor’s Mansion.
On the bright side, in 1983 Gov. Sheffield initiated purchase of the 482-mile Alaska Railroad. President Ronald Reagan signed legislation authorizing transfer of the Alaska Railroad to the State of Alaska.
October 26, 1984: Governor Sheffield appointed the first Board of Directors of the Alaska Railroad Corporation. Board members included James Campbell (chair), Frank Chapados (V. Chair), Lewis Dickinson (founding partner of Dowl Engineers), Myron Christy (retired CEO of Western Pacific Railroad Company), Gerald Valinske (member of United Transportation Union and Alaska Railroad employee), Richard Knapp (Commissioner of Transportation and Public Facilities), and Loren Lounsbury (Commissioner of Commerce and Economic Development). Frank Turpin was appointed the first President & CEO of this state-owned enterprise.1
In 1985 the transfer of ownership of the Alaska Railroad took place. The State of Alaska purchased it from the Federal Government for $22.3 million.
But the Sheffield Administration is not remembered much for that.
For background: Article II, Sect. 20 of the Alaska Constitution provides for all civil officers of the State to be subject to impeachment by the Alaska Legislature. Originating in the Senate, the motion for impeachment must be approved by a 2/3rds vote of the members. The trial must be held in the House of Representatives. Alaska’s senate has only 20 members.
A 1985 grand jury report alleged that this governor had attempted to steer a state office lease in Fairbanks to a political supporter and recommended that the legislature initiate impeachment proceedings against Sheffield. The legislature did convene a special session and began a hearing but there was no statutory implementation of this constitutional section. In Alaska’s constitution important preliminary questions were undefined, including whether impeachment was reviewable by the courts, argued the lawyers. This provided a legal hole large enough to drive a locomotive through. In the end, the Senate Rules Committee which heard the evidence, did not find sufficient cause for the full senate and house to proceed with this legal exercise.2
That is the sanitized version of what happened, but there is more to this sleezy story.
I remember well in Juneau that the State of Alaska was experiencing high income from oil production in those days and everybody had a scheme to throw money at. In his 1997 book Extreme Conditions, Pulitizer Prize winning journalist John Strohmeyer documents conditions from sudden oil wealth leading to big time Alaska political corruption.
The money is gone.
Strohmeyer’s story begins on the North Slope where Prudhoe Bay is located.
As the seat of the North Slope borough, which taxes all of the Prudhoe Bay oil fields, Barrow is the richest city, per capita, in the United States, and possibly in the world. In recent years it has also probably attracted the greatest number of unscrupulous people, per capita. That they have managed to extort many millions of dollars of Eskimo wealth is a scandal little known beyond Alaska.3
The North Slope Borough (NSB) was created in June 1972 by an essentially Eskimo election that voted for it 402-27. Alaska courts validated that election to establish the largest local government in the world with some 5,700 mostly Inupiat Eskimos residing in an area the size of Minnesota. Forming a local borough government was culture clash at its most extreme.
A desire by Barrow patriarch and first mayor Eben Hopson to bring Barrow into the modern age attracted many advisors to Barrow. He desired for the community to have all the amenities found in Anchorage or Fairbanks. Residents wanted running water and flush toilets, which required digging and building a utilidor. With their new wealth they believed they could have anything. But Hopson died in 1980.
The second NSB mayor, Eugene Brower was the former public works director under Hopson. His administration as mayor proceeded to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars—the debt swelled from $453 million to $1.2 billion over three years—by floating bonds backed by the NSB’s considerable oil property tax base. Legislation in Juneau to cap the run-away spending was proposed amid fears the state could be left holding the bag when oil revenues declined and the borough could no longer meet payments. The doors of corruption swung open.4
The vultures flock.
Former commissioner of labor under Gov. Bill Egan, Lew Dischner was now a lobbyist for several large clients, including the Teamsters--the most powerful labor group in the state. With a considerable network of influence Dischner had a reputation for delivering hefty campaign contributions to primarily Democrat candidates for public office. His efforts on behalf of Mayor Hopson resulted in Dischner becoming borough lobbyist and kingmaker--by engineering the election of Brower. We know now that some $100,000 for the campaign was laundered through a variety of people who contributed, but the money actually came from Dischner and a variety of contractors looking for NSB business.
Mayor Brower’s other confidant, Carl Mathisen had parlayed minimum previous experience in Anchorage contracting into a position as borough training program coordinator, where he had come to know Brower in the Public Works Department. Mathisen became Mayor Brower’s mentor in the ways of government. As consultant to the mayor and public works department, handling special works capital projects, Mathisen soon earned an average of $300,000 per year. Dischner and Matheson teamed up and recruited a network of vendors who agreed to pay them a 10 percent kickback on any contracts received from NSB.
According to Strohmeyer:
“The consultants became the government,” Chris Mello, then contract reviewer for the borough, says. A California native, barely thirty years old and fresh out of California Western School of Law in San Diego, Mello was working at his first real job. He admits he was puzzled by what he saw at first, and then was simply dismayed. “In my first meeting with Lew Dischner, he told me he was a blood brother to the mayor, and what he said went,“ Mello says. “Suddenly the borough was starting hundreds of projects and running them was wrestled away from the borough employees and turned over to the consultants. We were reduced to clerks.”5
As costs for the growing number of construction projects awarded in no-bid contracts escalated, the people of the North Slope began to be concerned that their money was being siphoned to outside interests. The high school, originally projected to cost $25 million, soared to $80 million. The mayor’s lifestyle became lavish. And despite a $250,000 campaign fund raised with Dischner’s expertise, Brower was voted out of office in the fall of 1984. George Ahmaogak became mayor! And, during the last five days in office Brower’s administration pushed through more than $15 million in checks and signed $7.6 million in contracts.
A devastating subsequent audit by a Fairbanks accounting firm found wholesale fraud. While on the borough payroll as consultants Dischner and Mathisen had set up firms of their own to get borough business. Their company North Slope Constructors was able to shut out other firms by bidding low and then negotiating change orders. “That substantially increased the size of the contract without substantially increasing work to be done,” the audit reports.6
As widespread North Slope Borough corruption became known, Gov. Sheffield was asked about it. When he replied that he was not aware that any state money had been involved, he was challenged by the fact that more than $4 million of state money had been budgeted for a half-dozen projects, questioned in the audit.
The plot thickened before our eyes
Dischner had been one of Sheffield’s largest contributors in his campaign for governor. By spring of 1985 the Fairbanks News-Miner proposed there may be something amiss about a 10-year, $9.1 million lease the state had signed for office space in a certain Fairbanks building. Specifications for the bid had been written so narrowly that only the one building had qualified.
Stan Jones, a reporter on the News-Miner, dropped the Barrow story and plunged into a round-the-clock investigation of the Fairbanks lease. He reported that a labor leader named Lennie Arsenault, who had helped raise $92,000 for Sheffield’s campaign, had a financial interest in the favored building. Further, he found that Arsenault had had discussions with the governor regarding the lease and that employees within the state leasing office had protested the circumvention of leasing procedures.6
State prosecutor Dan Hickey impounded all leasing records in the procurement office and launched a grand-jury investigation of the governor. Sheffield made two appearances before that grand jury. Alaska attorney general Norm Gorsuch responded to Hickey’s discovery by recruiting a special prosecutor from Washington D.C., George Frampton, who had worked as a special prosecutor with the Watergate grand jury in the impeachment inquiry of Richard Nixon. The Alaska grand jury worked for ten weeks, calling in more than forty witnesses and preparing 161 exhibits as it built a case against Sheffield.
Again, as reported by Strohmeyer:
On July 2, 1985, the grand jury returned a devastating report. It charged “a serious abuse of office” by Governor Sheffield and his chief of staff, John Shively, in their alleged intervention into the lease process and in their attempt to frustrate official investigations into the matter. Inspired, according to some, by the climate of the Watergate hearings, the jurors called Sheffield unfit to hold office and recommended the senate be called into special session to consider impeaching the governor.7
Republican Nixon had resigned August 9, 1974 when facing certain impeachment and removal from office for the Watergate break-in. Democrat Sheffield fought it.
Sticking by his story--that he didn’t remember meeting with Arsenault--Sheffield further argued that consolidating state offices in Fairbanks would save money. Shortly after the grand jury report Attorney General Gorsuch--who had been appointed to that position by Sheffield, issued a legal opinion--stating that the administration should cancel the lease because it was tainted by favoritism--and immediately resigned. Sheffield quickly then appointed Ketchikan attorney, Hal Brown, who fired prosecutor Hickey as his subordinate in the Alaska Department of Law.
A nagging question: Should Alaskans elect their attorney general as many other states do or should the top law official serve at the pleasure of the governor?
As might be expected given the players, the Alaska Senate Rules Committee impeachment debate resembled Watergate. Republicans were in the majority 11-9 in the senate and former Watergate committee counsel Sam Dash was brought in to oversee the proceedings. For his defense, Sheffield hired Philip Lacovara, counsel to Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski.
Dash argued that Sheffield’s tampering with state leasing procedures might not amount to an impeachable offense, but perjury would. This is the same “perjury trap” Americans have become familiar with in recent national political events surrounding election of Donald Trump as president: Sheffield had testified under oath four times that he could not remember ever meeting with Arsenault, while not only Arsenault but also Chief of Staff Shively told the grand jury in detail about a meeting in which the governor and Arsenault discussed lease specifications.
Bumpkins in the Alaska Senate not only rejected Dash’s case for impeachment but also gutted a subsequent rules committee resolution denouncing Sheffield for questionable veracity and “significant irregularities.” Instead they called for a study into state procurement procedures and added a resolution recommending the Alaska Judicial Council “study the use of the power of the grand jury to investigate and make recommendations…to prevent abuse and assure basic fairness.” Five years later Sheffield was further rewarded in a catchall bill--ostensibly to fund the state’s longevity bonuses and legal expenses to recover disputed royalty payments from oil companies--which included a payment of $302,653 for Sheffield’s impeachment legal fees.
Dishner and Mathisen were prosecuted and on May 23, 1989 a federal jury found Dishner, now 73, and Mathisen, now 57 guilty of more than 20 counts each of racketeering, fraud, bribery and accepting kickbacks from contractors. U.S. district judge James M. Fitzgerald sentenced each man to seven years in federal prison and ordered them to forfeit more than $5 million in property.
As a frog jumps from Lilypad to pad, after leaving the position of Governor, Sheffield served as Chairman of the Alaska ‘Railroad Board of Directors from 1985 to 1997. In 1997 he was promoted to President and CEO of the railroad, where he served until 2001.
At age 91 Sheffield was removed from his director’s seat and named Alaska Railroad Board Member Emeritus in November of 2019 by Gov. Michael Dunleavy.
But back in In 2003 Sheffield had been named Director of the Port of Anchorage by Mayor Mark Begich. Another disaster ensued. In 2013 Sheffield resigned after working at the port for 10 years and being the public face of an ambitious expansion effort that had ended up way behind schedule and far over budget.
The port is owned and operated by the Municipality of Anchorage. To date, the project has received $439 million. The State of Alaska has contributed nearly $220 million, federal government has given nearly $139 million and the port has added more than $80 million in loans and tariff generated revenue.9
But now everything is tied up in court, we are years away from completion of the re-engineered dock upgrade, and Alaskans can be sure it is going to be expensive.
Uncle Bill Sheffield doesn’t do things on the cheap, you know.
1Alaska Railroad History https://www.backcountrysafaris.com/alaska-railroad/railroad-history.php
2Harrison, Gordon S., Alaska’s Constitution; a citizen’s guide, Alaska Legislative Affairs Agency, 2002 S
3Strohmeyer, John, Extreme Conditions, Big Oil and the Transformation of Alaska, Cascade Press, 6633 Lunar Dr., Anchorage, AK 99504, 1997, p123.
5Ibid, p 127
6Ibid p 130
7Ibid p 131
8Ibid, p 133
Monday, December 9, 2019
Battle Dawgs take Combat Veteran Care
to the Next Level
“It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.”
--William T. Sherman
|The Battle Dawgs base camp near Talkeetna.|
In 1836 the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony--who were at war with the Pequot Indians--passed a law stating that disabled soldiers would be supported by the colony.1 Today, after many wars, we as Americans know care for veterans is a sacred trust.
Unresolved political conflicts between nations become standoffs and ultimately armed actions. Our nation was founded in a Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783 involving 217,000 soldiers of which 4,435 were killed and 6,188 left with non-mortal wounds.2
And, as war has become ever more brutal Alaska is becoming a favored place for some veterans to recuperate from the ravages of combat.
Consider our nation’s evolution in war.
The War of 1812 (1812-1815) involved a total of 286,730 total U.S. Service members; 2,260 died and 4,505 had non-mortal wounds. A ratio of 2:1 wounded to killed.
Mexican War (1846-1848) involved 78,718 servicemembers. Of those 1,733 died in battle and 11,550 died from related causes in theater. 4,152 suffered non-mortal wounds. More died than were wounded.
Perhaps the most brutal of our American Wars was between ourselves; the Civil War (1861-1865) involved 2,213,363 U.S. Servicemen in the Union Army with 140,414 suffering death in battle and 224,097 dying from other causes in theater. 281,881 were wounded. Confederate servicemen numbered an estimated 1,050,000, of which 74,524 died in battle and 59,297 in theater. It is unknown how many were left with non-mortal wounds.
The Spanish-American War (1898-1902) saw 306,760 American servicemembers participating with 2,446 deaths and 1,662 wounded.
War is hell
During the last century technology has created a modern war machine that can turn a human body into hamburger, or simply vaporize it. Our liberty was born in war and even knowing the risk associated with joining the military many courageous Americans continue to serve. These are American heroes. Some live to enjoy the fruits of their service in America while some are wounded and deeply impacted for the rest of their lives.
Participation in World War I (1917-1918) involved 4,734,991 U.S. Servicemen worldwide. Battle deaths numbered 291,557 and 113,842 others received non-theater related death. Veterans with non-mortal wounds numbered 204,002. The last known veteran of that conflict was Frank Buckles who died February 27, 2011 at age 101.
Our Debt to Veterans
As the U.S. entered World War I under President Woodrow Wilson, in 1917, Congress established a new system of Veterans benefits, including programs for disability compensation, insurance for service personnel and Veterans, and vocational rehabilitation for the disabled. By the 1920s, three different federal agencies administered the various benefits: The Veterans Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions of the Interior Department, and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. America had begun to take seriously the care of those who remained after national conflicts requiring their military service. Today the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and National Cemetery Administration (NCA) compromise the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Because of our commitment to liberty the United States of America has been required to send a mostly voluntary military force into battle against adversaries in recent decades. One result has been a growing number of veterans with varying levels of disability requiring care.
An estimated 1,711,000 veterans of WW II (1941-1945) are still living, according to the VA. That is what is left from a total U.S Servicemember count of 16,112,566 participants. WW II saw 291,557 battle deaths and 113,842 non-theater deaths. 670,846 were wounded.
5.72 million U.S Servicemembers participated in the Korean War (1950-1953) with death of 54,246. Some 103,284 were left with non-mortal wounds. An estimated 2,275,000 living veterans remain.
The Vietnam War (1964-1975) required 8,744.000 U.S. servicemembers worldwide with 3,403,000 deployed to Southeast Asia. Battle Deaths reached 47,434 with 10,786 additionally in theater and 32,000 deaths out of theater. Non mortal wounded were 153,303, and it is estimated that 7,391,000 Vietnam veterans are still alive.
The short Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991) war saw 2,322,000 U.S. Servicemembers participate with 694,550 deployed to the Persian Gulf. Only 1,948 battle deaths, including other in-theater deaths and non-theater deaths, occurred. Non-mortal wounded were 467 and living veterans are estimated to total 2,244,583.
But the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center September 11, 2001 put the United States on a different war footing, which compounded the already great stress on the VA from all living veterans of U.S. wars.
The Global War on Terror (GWOT) (Oct 2001 - ) includes Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), are ongoing conflicts with the following attributes:
· Operation ENDURING FREEDOM began on October 7, 2001, when the United States launched military operations in Afghanistan, including airstrikes against Kabul and Kandahar. In sustaining military operations for over a decade, American troops continue to fight a widespread insurgency and establish a viable government. As of December 2019 we have seen 1,845 deaths from hostilities and 502 from other causes. 20,147 have been wounded.
· Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) started kinetic operations August 8, 2014. It is comprised of U.S. military and coalition forces united to build the military coalition to support Iraqi Security Force operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Deaths from hostilities have been 17 and from other events 70. Wounded total: 81.
· Operation FREEDOM'S SENTINEL (OFS), maintains forces in Afghanistan following the end of U.S. combat operations there on December 31, 2014. U.S. forces remain in the country to participate in a coalition mission to train, advise, and assist Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda. As of December 2019 deaths from hostilities have totaled 59 while non-hostile events have caused 23 deaths.4
VA Under the Gun
Fewer American warriors are dying in war, but the challenges to the VA have increased with the accumulation of veterans requiring services from previous and on-going conflicts.
A June 6, 2014 Associated Press story reports that by June 5, 2014, Veterans Affairs internal investigations had identified 35 veterans who had died while waiting for care in the Phoenix VHA system.3 An investigation of delays in treatment throughout the Veterans Health Administration system was conducted by the Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General, and the House passed legislation to fund a $1 million criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
On May 16, 2014, the Veterans Health Administration's top health official, Dr. Robert Petzel, retired early at the request of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. On May 30, 2014, Secretary Shinseki resigned from office amid the fallout from the controversy, and by June 2014 several other VA medical centers around the nation were identified with the same problems as the Phoenix facility. Investigations by the VA Inspector General, the Congress and others were widened, with an internal VA audit released June 9, 2014 finding that more than 120,000 veterans were left waiting or never got care, and that schedulers were pressured to use unofficial lists or engage in inappropriate practices to make waiting times appear more favorable.
On June 11, 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a criminal investigation of the VA. President Barack Obama ordered a White House investigation. On June 27, 2014, Obama's Deputy Chief of Staff, Rob Nabors, reported "significant and chronic system failures" and a "corrosive culture" inside the Veterans Health Administration. In August 2014, Obama signed Congressional legislation regarding funding and reform of the Veterans Health Administration.
Taking Care of our Wounded Warriors
Alaska presents a unique opportunity to help serve American warriors who have served and suffered, according to Rick Casillo, Founder/Director of Programs at Battle Dawgs. Casillo has finished the Iditarod Trail International Sled Dog Race eight times since his rooky year in 2004. But this is now his mission.
“This is my way of serving,” Casillo explained in a presentation December 4 to the Susitna Rotary Club. “I tried to serve in the military four separate Rick Casillo
times but I was medically disqualified. Every time I went in they said: Son, get the heck out of here, we aren’t going to take you in the military. So this is my way to give back.”
Casillo’s wife, Jenifer is President of Battle Dawgs and a Colonel in the Alaska Air National Guard.
He explained: “I literally wrote this program Battle Dogs on my computer about eight years ago. I said one day when I am in a position to give back this is something I want to do. So I started volunteering for another veteran’s organization here in the (Mat-Su) valley almost two years.”
The Battle Dogs organization today extends far beyond Alaska in its reach to wounded battle warriors.
“I used to have a tourism company taking people up in the summertime in a helicopter on a glacier, and we would take them around a two mile loop with the dogs. So I thought it would be cool to donate a couple of trips to this veteran’s organization. That is how it started; I had this idea to bring veterans up to check it out and they liked doing it. I knew I wanted to go the non-profit route and check the waters first because I have never been in the military myself.”
The Iditarod dog-mushing hook is only one part of what has worked now over more than six years of providing theme camps for veterans with battle experience. “Basically, what we do is provide outdoor situations for veterans,” Casillo explained. “Fly fishing is what caused me to originally move to Alaska; I used to be a fly fishing instructor. Now I have lots of dogs, so we integrate the dogs into the camps as much as we can.”
The outdoor camps are held at a spectacular setting on 650 acres near Talkeetna, with Montana Creek running through it. But getting it started was tricky.
“As a civilian I was nervous about getting involved with veterans,” Casillo continued. “It takes a while once they come back into country to develop trust of civilians, so I was a little nervous about how they would react to me doing this for them. But I think I was able to make a connection with these guys by talking about what I do--working as a team with the dogs.
“To be with my dogs requires a team effort,” said Casillo. We have to be a team to get to Nome. Battle Dawgs networks with flightseeing tours, railroad tours and other opportunities available. Without the community here (in the Mat-Su Valley) there would be no Battle Dawgs. We began as a grass roots organization and we are growing every year.
“So, as these participating warriors asked me questions I think the dialog developed trust,” said Casillo. “Then, before you know it they were pouring their hearts and souls out to me. I’m not a trained counselor but I can listen. I will never understand hearing the sound of a bullet cracking over your head, of losing a buddy to an IED explosion, or any of the other events of stories I have heard over the last 6-7 years.”
A national veteran crisis is at hand, according to Casillo: “What so many are facing after having served is an epidemic now. Battle Dogs focuses on Combat Veterans. I mean no disrespect but we are not a thank you for your service organization.” He emphasized: “We focus on Combat Veterans; guys who have served outside the wire. We focus on Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and of course addressing the high suicide rate in our veteran community.”
He became emphatic: “We are losing 20 veterans to suicide every day in this country. That is horrible!”
Casillo says his organization has five documented cases of saving warrior veterans from suicide. He has many applications for the camps that are partially filled out and others who took a long time to get it filled out.
So, how does it work? For the application go here: https://www.battledawgs.org/
“I read every application; I call all of the warriors and we do not accept all who apply. Again, we are not a thank you for your service organization. You have to fit our criteria,” Casillo continued. “In each camp I try to put together like-minded warriors. We’ve had Green Berets, Navy Seals, Rangers; our vice president was a Tier One operator with Delta Force—a sniper—, all branches of the military arerepresented. I try to pair them so when we have the camp they have things in common.”
Further: “A lot of our camps are mission based. We have a lot of 11-Bravo mission guys who were trained to shoot guns, kick in doors, and eliminate the enemy. When they get out there aren’t too many jobs looking for that skill-set,” said Casillo. “So they lack that purpose, that mission. At Battle Dawgs we try to bring them in and give them that sense of mission.”
“My goal is 100 veterans per year. Our camps are all free of charge for warriors; all they need to do is get their body on an airplane or be at the door when I am there to pick them up, so I can take them up to our camp,” said Casillo.
Any reader who been thinking about doing something like this, or who knows someone who might benefit from an Alaska Battle Dawgs experience, should act now:
“This year will be the first we will be year-round, 12 months,” Casillo concluded. “This is also the first year we will be doing hard-core dog mushing with veterans. I expect my phone to be ringing off the wall when we announce this because I have asked many if they would be interested in coming to Alaska and mushing dogs at thirty below?
“The answer was usually “Oh Hell Yeah!”
Copy and paste this link to send story to someone who might benefit from Battle Dawgs:
2U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, America’s Wars https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/fs_americas_wars.pdf
3 Defense Casuality Analysis System
4 Daly, Matthew; Tang, Terry (June 6, 2014). "VA chief: 18 vets left off waiting list have died". bigstory.ap.org. Associated Press. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
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