A Vietnam War veteran finally heard back from the VA about scheduling an appointment with a primary care doctor.
Tragically, by then he had already died from a brain tumor.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is engulfed in a corruption scandal involving secret waiting lists and other forms of alleged mismanagement at VA hospitals designed to conceal the true extent of the backlog for vets waiting for medical care, some of whom allegedly died while they were in limbo awaiting appointments.
To make matters worse, log-rolling VA executives handed out fat performance bonuses to each other while these bureaucratic shenanigans were going on. On the subject of those bonuses, according to CNN, “78% of VA senior managers qualified for extra pay or other compensation in fiscal year 2013 by receiving ratings of ‘outstanding’ or ‘exceeds fully successful’…”
In this apparently particularly egregious case, Massachusetts resident Doug Chase was diagnosed with the brain tumor in 2011. Suzanne Chase, his widow, told Boston’s WBZ that in 2012 they attempted to transfer Doug’s medical care to a local Veterans Affairs hospital in Bedford, Mass., because the trip to Boston where he apparently was receiving treatment was becoming too difficult for her husband.
The Chase family never got an answer from the VA, and Doug sadly passed away in August 2012.
A few weeks ago, i.e., two years later, the VA sent Doug Chase a letter indicating that he was approved for an appointment with a VA physician.
Suzanne admitted she was in complete disbelief upon receiving the VA correspondence dated June 12, 2014. “It was 22 months too late; I kind of felt like I was in the twilight zone when I opened this letter and read it.”
Perhaps adding insult to injury, the VA letter stated at the bottom that “We are committed to providing primary care in a timely manner and would greatly appreciate a prompt response.”
Doug’s widow noted that the VA should have known that her husband had passed away because she had previously applied for funeral benefits that the federal government makes available to veterans and their families. The request had been denied because — in perhaps the ultimate Catch-22 — Doug had never been treated at a VA hospital.
Said Suzanne, “It is absurd. It made me angry because I just don’t think our veterans should be treated this way.”
Suzanne Chase added that she wrote a letter to the Bedford facility about this situation, but never heard back. When the story hit the media, however, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued a statement that read in part, “We regret any distress our actions caused to the Veteran’s widow and family… Thank you for bringing this regrettable issue to our attention. We apologize for our error and any difficulties this has caused you. We will examine our process, do what we can to fix it, and institute measures to prevent this from happening again…”
The VA claims it is implementing new procedures across the country to address scheduling issues for veterans’ healthcare services.
[image credit: coolcaesar]