August 26, 2016
By Lorra B.
The story of veterans believing that there is no way out, other than to end it all, is sadly becoming a familiar one. On Sunday afternoon, in the parking area of the Northport Long Island VA Medical Center, 76-year-old Peter Kaisen, after being denied service, took own his life.
Just outside of the nursing home, building 92 of the VA hospital, the man from Islip shot himself.
After being denied service at the E.R., stated a worker who wished to remain anonymous, “he went to his car and shot himself,” reports The New York Times.
“The hospital is part of the Veterans Affairs medical system, the nation’s largest integrated health care organization, which has been under scrutiny since 2014, when the department confirmed that numerous patients had died awaiting treatment at a V.A. hospital in Phoenix,” reports the Times.
“Officials there had tried to cover up long waiting times for 1,700 veterans seeking medical care. A study released by the Government Accountability Office in April indicated that the system had yet to fix its scheduling problems.”
Kaisen had been refused service, according to the report, because of the state of his mental health.
But why, then, was Mr. Kaisen not referred to the VA’s mental health building?
One worker was quoted saying that, “They should not have turned him away…Someone dropped the ball.”
The ball at the VA seems to be getting kicked around quite a bit and veterans are either dying or taking their own lives as a direct result.
In April the Government Accountability Office issued a report that the problems plaguing the VA system had yet to be fixed and that wait times are still very much an issue.
Of all U.S. suicides veterans account for 18 percent. A staggering number when you take into consideration that “former service members make up less than 9 percent of the entire population,” according to The Washington Free Beacon.
There were more than 7,400 veteran suicides in 2014 alone. In 2015 it was estimated that between 18 and 22 veterans committed suicide daily.
In a statement, spokesperson Todd Goodman gave condolences for the VAMC:
“There are no words to adequately convey our heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends and neighbors regarding the death of a 76-year-old Veteran found on the grounds of Northport VAMC…The employees here at Northport feel this loss deeply and extend their thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by this tragedy.”
Veterans show much higher risk factors of taking their own lives than the general population. Last year nearly one-third of veteran suicides were VA hospital patients and while the VA is trying to “piece everything together” the suicides continue with no real plan of attack and no end in sight.
By Lorra B.