This is a truly heartbreaking story.
Peter Kaisen, a 76-year-old veteran of the U.S. Navy, committed suicide outside a VA hospital after he was allegedly denied care.
Kaisen served in the military from 1958 to 1962 and was allegedly at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center to receive help with depression. When he was not given the care he needed, he shot and killed himself. Kaisen was a regular patient with the VA hospital.
His friend of 40 years, Thomas Farley, told Fox News: “He went there for help with depression. That was his last hope, and he didn’t get any help.”
Kaisen was injured in a car accident in the 1960s while working as a Long Beach Police officer. The accident left him disabled and in need of medication.
According to a report from the New York Times, Kaisen became upset when he was not allowed to see the emergency room physician at the hospital to address a mental health condition. A source told the paper, “He went to the E.R. and was denied service. And then he went to his car and shot himself.”
The source added, “Someone dropped the ball. They should not have turned him away.”
The VA hospital, however, claims the man didn’t go to the ER before taking his own life.
Hospital spokesman Christopher Goodman told the paper: “the employees here at Northport feel this loss deeply and extend their thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by this tragedy.”
Farley noted that “Maybe he can be used as an example to make things better,” adding, “Maybe we can save someone else’s life. That way, he would not have died in vain.”
Reports of VA hospitals rejecting medical claims or delaying treatment, as well as cases of corruption, have surfaced over the years, with Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma explaining that as many as 1,000 veterans over the past decade may have died while awaiting treatment.
Farley talked highly of his friend, explaining, “I’m a Vietnam vet — disabled from Agent Orange — and he was always looking out for me. He was such a faithful guy. He was such a big advocate for veterans and that’s what makes it so sad.”
Those weighing in in the comments section of the Fox News story shared their opinions, with one person noting: “This guy was not a disabled veteran which meant he had to meet certain criteria to be eligible for treatment by the VA. There are eight priority systems and this guy was low priority. He was a peacetime veteran who never saw combat. His problems were not service-connected. Don’t hang this on the VA.”
Another person, however, explained: “VA stands for all vets war time or peace it’s supposed to treat military connection members no matter what. They all are priority he wasn’t a low priority. Yes he qualified for free health care also no one knows what he seen through his served yrs. As a family of veterans all of those whom were state side and abroad all have issues caused by stress. Those aboard ships and in subs has problems even though they may not hit land. I know some that thought of suicide while aboard ships and subs. When state side and overseas has never been seen those are affected also. When constantly in the fields for training and not allowed to shower daily nor talk to others by phone or mail it affects them. So therefore all military today or former has been instructed to do things that caused so much stress deserves to be treated. Today’s military has access to the internet and therefore they don’t know what is like from years past.”