Hearing ordered in vet's claim against VA

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — An Iraq war veteran's claim that the Department of Veterans Affairs downgraded a diagnosed traumatic brain injury to reduce his disability benefits is moving forward.

A hearings officer with the Department of Labor denied a request by the federal government dismiss a grievance that retired U.S. Army Capt. Charles Gatlin filed with the Montana Board of Psychology against VA psychologist Robert Bateen, who works at Fort Harrison west of Helena.

The Missoulian reports (http://bit.ly/THMOjL ) hearings officer Gregory Hanchett found factual disputes still exist, so a summary judgment wouldn't be appropriate.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Victoria Francis also argued the state lacked jurisdiction in a claim filed against a federal employee. Hanchett said he did not have the jurisdiction to rule on that matter.

Gatlin's complaint is scheduled to be heard by an administrative law judge on July 16.

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Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com

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