This posting comes from an article yesterday in the Springfield, Missouri News-Leader newspaper. It's a horrible indictment of our health care system, how we treat our Veterans and our nation, overall, generally.
Joseph Cyrus could barely get the words out.
He knew what he wanted to say, but he didn't want to break down in the courtroom.
Cyrus' lawyer told him it was OK. He could wait until the sentencing hearing in a few months if he wanted. But the 77-year-old Cyrus couldn't wait.
A proud man, Cyrus couldn't go another day without explaining himself.
"I wanted to be caught, your honor," Cyrus said from his wheelchair last month at the federal courthouse in Springfield. "I wanted to get some help from the United States government."
A masked Cyrus robbed the Central Bank on James Epps Road in Branson on Oct. 16, pointing what he says was a plastic BB gun at the tellers.
The reason he committed the crime, he said, was to get access to healthcare in the federal prison system.
Cyrus turned himself in to police a few days after the robbery and pleaded guilty on Nov. 10.
Cyrus gave an emotional speech in the courtroom after pleading guilty, saying he has bad feet and is losing his hearing. He told the judge he recently lost his job and was turned away by a Veterans Affairs hospital.
Cyrus said he woke up the morning of the robbery in his trailer at the Yacht Club Mobile Home Park in Hollister with roaches crawling all over his body.
He asked himself a question as he was eating breakfast that morning.
"I turned around and looked in the mirror, into a mirror that I had in my apartment, and I said 'Why am I doing this?'" Cyrus said. "So I grabbed that mask (and) turned the license plate upside down."
Cyrus drove his pickup truck to the bank, hobbled in, pointed what looked like a pistol at the tellers, ordered everyone into the lobby and made out with almost $31,000 in a reusable grocery bag.
Witnesses at the bank said Cyrus was "hunched over" and appeared to be in pain as he walked out of the building.
Two hours later, Cyrus paid his rent in cash, put a "for sale" sign in his truck and left town. He would later come back to Branson and turn himself in...
...Cyrus said in court he has 16 grandchildren. He said he didn't want them to see him as an old, deaf man too sick to drive a car...
...Kristie Breshears, public information officer at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, said Cyrus' case is not totally unique.
"I don’t want to give the misconception that there are all of these guys lined up to go to prison to get free healthcare," Breshears said. "But do I believe it exists? Absolutely."
Congratulations, America. This is who you are. This is what we've become.
Can we not do anything about this?