Problem solved. It was not the VATS system after all, but rather the electrical switch itself. not the key part but the switch located down under the dash mounted to the top of the steering column tube. It is actuated/positioned by the key by a long rod. It was wore slap out and it just didn't make contact in the start position.
A major indicator was the fact that there were no "idiot" lights showing up on the dash with the key in the "run" position. After replacing the switch all lights illuminate; check engine, oil, battery, ect. when the key is turned to the "run" position.
Thanks everyone for the help