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76-Year-Old Veteran Begs VA For Help, Gets Rejected; 10 Minutes Later Employees Hear A Scream

A 76-year-old former Navy man committed suicide in the parking lot of a New York VA hospital where he was allegedly denied care. This has raised new questions about the federal agency, and his family and friends hope his death won’t be in vain.

Peter A. Kaisen, 76, of Islip, shot and killed himself outside the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where he had been a patient.

Sources told The New York Times that before taking his life, Kaisen was upset because the VA hospital would not allow him to see an emergency-room physician for a mental health condition.

“He went there for help with depression,” said Thomas Farley, a friend of Kaisen’s for 40 years. “That was his last hope, and he didn’t get any help.”

“Maybe he can be used as an example to make things better,” said Farley, who spoke on behalf of the family. “Maybe we can save someone else’s life.”

“That way, he would not have died in vain,” he said.
“He went to the E.R. and was denied service,” one of the people, who currently works at the hospital, told the Times. “And then he went to his car and shot himself.”

“Someone dropped the ball,” the worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the paper. “They should not have turned him away.”
The hospital, meanwhile, reportedly said there was no indication Kaisen showed up at the E.R. prior to the incident.

Kaisen served in the U.S. Navy from 1958 to 1962, working on the USS Denebola, a ship that delivered refrigerated items and equipment to ships in the fleet, his friend said.

An online obituary in Kaisen’s name describes him as a “devoted husband, beloved father, grandfather, cherished friend and brother.”

The federal agency has been under fire for more than two years, following a stunning national review that revealed widespread corruption at facilities across the nation — from rejected medical claims to delays in treatment and cover-ups by high-level officials.

The review, by the Inspector General, was triggered when a whistle-blower revealed that as many as 40 veterans died waiting for as long as 21 months for care at a Phoenix facility. The whistle-blower claimed – and the review confirmed — that officials cooked the books to hide the wait times and deaths so hospital executives could qualify for bonuses.

Doctors and whistle-blowers from other VA hospitals came forward, citing long wait times and similar bookkeeping. A yearlong investigation by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., suggested that the number of veterans who died awaiting care or treatment over the past decade could top 1,000.