Why did this Veteran Rob a Bank?

By Faye Higbee

Why did this Veteran Rob a Bank?

Branson, MO – Joseph Cyrus is an Army veteran, and at 77 years old he has some medical problems. But the VA turned him away. One morning in October he woke up at his apartment in a local Mobile Home Park with cockroaches crawling all over his body and decided he just couldn’t take it any more. So he robbed the Central Bank in Branson.

“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?’ So I grabbed that mask (and) turned the license plate upside down.”

Then he proceeded to rob a bank with the mask and a toy gun.

Getting help the hard way

According to News-Leader.com,

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.

veteran rob

Joseph Cyrus, the mask and a toy gun- surveillance photo

“I wanted to be caught, your honor. I wanted to get some help from the United States government.” Joseph Cyrus

Cyrus said he threw the remainder of the money in the river because it was “worthless.” That was at the end of 2015. He appeared in court in December. The judge had some words of advice for the Army veteran who wanted to be caught.

“I hope you’ll find it somehow in your heart to let them (your family) — let them help you. I can tell you’re a strong and a proud man. And there’s nothing wrong with that, except if that gets in the way of letting people who love and care for you demonstrate that.” Judge David Rush

Cyrus was awaiting his sentencing behind bars.  He faced 10 years in prison for the robbery. The sentencing disposition was not available, but it is likely the judge took his circumstances into consideration. He many indeed have received the help he needed while he was behind bars, possibly while awaiting sentencing.

How many people commit crimes in order to get healthcare in prison?

Fed Med, the federal prison medical care, operates at no cost to the inmates. The care is as good as private care available on the outside. If you have need of a prosthetic, you can get it free. Toothache? Surgery? All available.

No one tracks the number of people that may have engaged in criminal activity just to get some help.

“I don’t want to give the misconception that there are all of these guys lined up to go to prison to get free health care. But do I believe it exists? Absolutely.” Kristie Breshears, public information officer at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield

It’s pathetic that so many of our veterans can’t get help from the Veterans’ Healthcare Administration… that someone- even if they are prideful and stretch the truth on occasion- would have to resort to bank robbery to get help.