VA Sends Letter Offering Vet a Doctor’s Appointment Two Years After He Had Died

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 1 2014 9:42 PM

VA Sends Letter Offering Vet a Doctor’s Appointment Two Years After He Had Died

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The never-ending story of VA health care disasters.

Photo by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

It’s hard to imagine how the Department of Veterans Affairs could do anything to make its reputation for mismanagement any worse. A recent review by the White House, after all, found the VA’s health care system for the country’s military is plagued by “significant and chronic system failures… in the wake of reports of patients dying while waiting for appointments and of treatment delays in VA facilities nationwide,” the Associated Press writes. What exactly do “significant and chronic system failures” look like?

Here’s yet another example, via NPR:

Nearly two years after her husband died, a Massachusetts woman received a letter saying that a Veterans Affairs hospital was ready to see him. Suzanne Chase's husband, Doug, was a Vietnam veteran who died of a brain tumor… She says the VA ought to have known her husband was dead: It denied a request for funeral benefits for him on the grounds that he hadn't been treated in one of its facilities.
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Susan Chase tried to get her husband treated for the tumor, diagnosed in 2011, at a VA hospital close to their home in 2012. But after four months, the couple’s request went unanswered. Months later, in August 2012, Doug Chase died. In June 2014, Chase was sent a letter from the VA “saying he could now call to make an appointment to see a primary care doctor,” Boston’s WBZ reports. “It was 22 months too late, I kind of thought I was in the twilight zone when I opened this letter and read it,” Susan Chase said when she received the letter.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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