Target: VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald
Goal: Stop senseless deaths of veterans because of inadequate access to health care.
Many U.S. veterans have died completely preventable deaths because of unaddressed problems in the Veterans Affairs medical system. After confirmation in 2014 that a number of patients died while awaiting treatment at a VA hospital in Phoenix, the organization has been under scrutiny. Two years later, similar incidents are still occurring. As recently as last week, a veteran committed suicide in the parking lot of a VA hospital in Long Island, where he had gone to the ER seeking help for his mental health conditions and been turned away.
Peter Kaisen was 76 when he shot himself in the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center parking lot, where he was a patient. It is a tragic oversight that he was allegedly told he could not see a doctor, and not referred to the facility’s mental health building. According to police investigation, Mr. Kaisen was alone at the time of his death. This particular hospital has already had issues with poor management and sub-par care of its patients—in May, the New York Times reported that all of the hospital’s operating rooms were closed for months due to black particles that were falling from the air ducts.
Additionally, investigations into the hospital in Phoenix where veterans died while waiting for care revealed that officials were allegedly trying to cover up the long wait times facing 1,700 veterans that came to seek health care. According to a study that the Government Accountability Office ran, the Veterans Affairs medical system has yet to address its scheduling issues as of this past April—about two years after the Phoenix hospital was initially scrutinized.
After serving our country with bravery and heroism, this substandard treatment of our veterans is unwarranted and disrespectful. Demand that these issues finally be addressed so that veterans can receive the care they deserve.
Dear Secretary McDonald,
Far too many veterans have died preventable deaths due solely to issues in the Veterans Affairs medical system. Last week, 76-year-old veteran Peter Kaisen committed suicide in the parking lot of a Long Island VA hospital after being turned away by the ER. Since 2014, when it was revealed that a number of patients of a VA hospital in Phoenix died while awaiting treatment, the Veterans Affairs medical system has been under scrutiny for its management and scheduling. And yet, a study released by the Government Accountability Office in April suggests that nothing has yet been done to remedy this.
Mr. Kaisen came to the VA hospital in Northport seeking help for his mental health issues, and yet was told he could not see a doctor. That same VA hospital came under scrutiny in May when the New York Times reported that all five of its operating room doors had remained closed for months, after black particles were seen falling from the air ducts. And officials of the Phoenix hospital where patients died awaiting care reportedly tried to cover up their unreasonably long wait times for 1,700 veterans.
This lack of adequate treatment for our veterans is unacceptable. Issues within the VA medical system of mismanagement and poor scheduling must be addressed. After risking their lives for this country, our veterans deserve access to the treatment that they need. I urge you to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs resolves these issues as soon as possible, and does not allow another U.S. veteran to die a needless death.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Billy Hathorn