Investigators: Vet goes from war zone to the legal trenches

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by By / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 21 at 2:42 PM

Video: Vet goes from war zone to the legal trenches

TACOMA, Wash. - A former Washington National Guardsman who served in Iraq has launched a fight of a different sort.

Sgt. Keith Jackson is going after two former comrades who he says falsely re-enlisted him. Last year the KING 5 Investigators reported that Jackson wasn't the first Washington guardsman to make such a claim.

Jackson served with the U.S. Army decades ago and then, after 9/11, left his comfortable civilian job to join the Washington National Guard.

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"I felt very strongly about this war," Jackson said. "I wanted to make a bit of a difference if I could."

Jackson completed a combat tour in Iraq and thought his service was over until the Guard handed him a two-year re-enlistment contract it claimed Jackson had signed.

"The people that said they swore me in weren't the ones that swore me in, but the first thing that caught my eye was the signature," he said. "I know what my signature looks like."

Jackson says the signature clearly wasn't his.

The contract says that Jackson re-upped at an Issaquah recruiting station. But when the KING 5 Investigators looked into Jackson's case last year we found evidence that he was not even in the United States. He was in Iraq at the time.

After his combat tour with the Guard Jackson took a job in Iraq with a private security company. His passport shows he was there on June 24, 2006.

Yet the re-enlistment contract appears to say on that date two Army recruiters in Issaquah witnessed Jackson sign and certified it with their own signatures.

According to Jackson's Tacoma lawyer, James Beck, those signatures mean "they're stating that Keith Jackson is present before them, that he has been given an oath ... and they're verifying that in fact all of that occurred in front of them."

Beck has now filed a federal lawsuit on Jackson's behalf against the two recruiters: Sergeant First Class Richard Tate of Puyallup and Captain Randy Decoteau.

Sgt. Tate never responded to our request for an interview and the Guard says both recruiters declined to talk to us.

Former guardsman Mike Patrick also got few answers about who forged re-enlistment documents in his name in 2006. The Guard quickly recognized the forgery and granted Patrick's honorable discharge, but he says he's not certain the people responsible for the forgeries were ever held accountable.

"I think they need people," Patrick said. "They're down on recruiting and they need people. We have two wars to fight."

Keith Jackson was also honorably discharged after we started looking into his case.

After our original story aired last year the Guard claimed Jackson signed the re-enlistment contract in Iraq. However, to this day it hasn't explained why the contract itself appears to contradict that.

Jackson is suing the recruiters for fraud and negligence, and to recover money he spent on a handwriting expert and other legal expenses.

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