A Marine Corps veteran and former Pentagon police officer received an unexpected knock on the door from two Secret Service agents and a county deputy sheriff at his Fredericksburg, Va., apartment in June.
The agents spent three hours grilling Kevin Lane a week after he told a Wounded Warrior counselor he had thought about jumping over the White House fence.
Lane, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, told the counselor in a phone conversation he thought jumping over the White House fence was the only way to gain attention to what he considers the unfair decision not to give him his job back at the Pentagon. Lane claims he only suggested jumping the fence hypothetically.
“I said if I jumped the White House fence then people would listen to me,“ Lane said he told the counselor. He explained that if he did that he’d be arrested, led away in handcuffs, and everyone would ask who he was and why he did it.
“The newspapers would want to know why I jumped the fence,” Lane recalled telling the man. “I’d have a chance to tell my story and someone would listen to me.”
Lane’s situation drums up concerns veterans and PTSD patients already have about the confidentiality of their counseling sessions and how their condition will affect their careers. Lane said PTSD cost him his job, and this incident made him distrustful of people he’d expected to be able to turn to for help.
Secret Service officials confirmed they interviewed Lane and explained their agents have a responsibility to investigate any possible threat against the president.
"The Secret Service respects the right of free speech and expression but we certainly have the right and obligation to speak to individuals to determine what their intent is," Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said in an email.
Lane described the Secret Service agents as polite. He said he explained to them during his interview he had no intention of jumping the White House fence. Lane told the agents he was only trying to make a point about his level of frustration of how he believes he has been ignored.
Lane distinguished himself in the Marine Corps with assignments as an embassy guard in Russia, Uganda and Lebanon, where he lost a friend in the 1983 embassy bombing. He also held a special assignment helping to document atrocities in Rwanda for the U.S. State Department.
After the Corps, he became a civilian police officer, and eventually took a job with the Pentagon police force. He was on duty on 9/11 where he dug through the wreckage to find the living and the dead.
A pistol-range misfire that injured his hand brought to the surface long-suppressed anxieties he had during his time in service. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
His situation at work deteriorated and ultimately he was told he should take medical disability – a decision he regretted once he began serious counseling and medication. He initially received an 80 percent medical disability, which provided about $4,400 per month. Lane said his disability was later lowered to 40 percent and his monthly payments shrunk to about $2,500.
His separation from the Pentagon Force Protection Agency was acrimonious and officials there showed no interest in having him return even after his Veterans Administration counselor, Dolores Lindblom, wrote a letter saying he was ready to go back to work.
The PFPA told Lane he could reapply and get in line, Lane said. Agency officials did not respond to a request for an interview or comment.
Meanwhile, Lane contacted his state senator, Sen. Bryce E. Reeves, R-Va., whose aides, Lane said, took countless messages from him, offered to help, but never followed up. Lane said he never even got to meet Reeves.
He said his visits with Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., also went nowhere, notwithstanding promises to help.
At one point he was told to contact Darienne Page, the White House lead for Veterans, Wounded Warrior and Military Family Outreach. Lane said he left voice messages and sent numerous emails – copies of which he says he retained – but never got a reply.
He expressed his frustration to the Wounded Warrior counselor, and later to the Secret Service.
Lindblom, who was also interviewed by a Secret Service agent, said she does not believe Lane ever constituted a threat to the president and she made that clear to the agent. Lindblom has been counseling Lane for about three years.
Lindblom also said it was her understanding that the person at the Wounded Warrior Program who reported Lane’s comments to law enforcement was reprimanded.
Camilla S. Schwoebel, a regional director for the state’s Wounded Warrior Program, would not comment. She said privacy laws prohibit speaking about individual veterans cases or staff issues.
She explained that federal health law dictates that providers “may disclose protected health information to authorized federal officials for the provision of protective services to the President” and others who legally fall under Secret Service protection. This would include the vice-president, major presidential and vice presidential candidates, their families, and high-ranking visiting foreign dignitaries.
Lane said it was simply wrong for the Wounded Warrior counselor to interpret what he said as a threat. The Wounded Warrior counselor was as helpful as the politicians he reached out to, he said.
“Everyone’s telling me to my face that they want to help me, but they don’t return calls,” he said.
Most recently, he went to the Washington office of Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., to talk with someone. He had high hopes that Webb, a former Marine who saw combat in Vietnam, would hear him out. But aides told him Webb was leaving office in November and referred Lane to Sen. John Warner.
Lane is waiting to see if his most recent letters – these to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki – get a response.
“I hope to hear something from somebody,” Lane said. “I really do, especially from the commandant. When I wrote to him I sort of addressed it ‘Marine to Marine.’“