By Cindy Uken
August 21, 2014
Ed Saunders is seen in this Aug. 14 photo that the Veterans Administration is claiming is in violation of their rules because it was taken on their property at the Majestic Lane Clinic without authorization.
Ed Saunders StatementA man who helps disabled veterans with transportation to Montana’s VA facilities has been threatened with a $50 fine for appearing in a photo with a newspaper article critical of the new West End VA clinic.
Who is Ed Saunders?
Ed Saunders is one of Yellowstone County's most trusted and respected veterans. He is:
-- a Ret. Lt. Col in the U.S. Army
-- a decorated ground combat veteran, Persian Gulf War
-- a disabled veteran with service-related disabilities
-- a former member of the Yellowstone County Veterans Cemetery which has been renamed Yellowstone National Veterans Cemetery
-- a member of the Big Sky Honor Flight Board of Directors
-- one of the veterans who led the effort to get public transportation to the West End VA Clinic.
-- a driver with the Disabled Veterans Transportation Network
-- a lifetime member of Disabled Veterans of America
-- a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
Saunders has also helped numerous veterans get medals they earned but never received.
In a sworn affidavit, Ed Saunders, adjutant of Billings Chapter 10 of Disabled American Veterans, said he was at the Billings VA Clinic on Aug. 18 on DAV business when VA police officer Steve McCollum asked Saunders to come to his office.
McCollum said he wanted a written statement from Saunders about his involvement with the Billings Gazette photo that was published Aug. 15. The news article centered on glitches with the opening of the new $6.3 million Majestic Lane Clinic. Saunders was among those critical of the clinic.
McCollum claimed being in an unauthorized photo on VA property is in violation of VA rules and subject to a $50 fine, according to Saunders’ notarized statement.
Saunders was not aware of the photo rule and said as a DAV public affairs officer he has taken many photos of DAV activities on VA property, including dedication of the new clinic when Montana’s congressional delegation was on hand. Saunders said he has also taken photos of DAV vans parked on VA property.
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