When a veteran didn’t come home after an appointment at the Washington, D.C. VA Medical Center, the family allegedly repeatedly begged hospital staffers for help finding him.
According to reports, after two days of waiting, the man’s sister went and searched the medical center’s parking lot herself. She found his body slumped over the steering wheel of his car.
Now investigators are trying to find out why hospital staffers didn’t try to find the man when his family reported him missing. The cause of death still hasn’t been determined, and it’s unclear how long the veteran sat in his car before passing away unnoticed by VA employees.
“I am absolutely outraged that a veteran who served our nation died alone, in his car, outside the DC VA Medical Center. This is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated, and it’s certainly no way to treat the men and women who have served,” House Veterans Affairs Committee Chariman Phil Roe said.
The D.C. medical health center already has an atrocious track record. Earlier this year, the VA Office of the Inspector General released a damning report declaring patients were at “unnecessary risk.” A team of investigators found supply shortages that forced delays in surgeries and other procedures, an inventory system in disarray, and 18 supposedly sterile storage areas that were dirty.
Instead of being fired for putting veterans’ lives in danger, the former head of the D.C. Medical Center now holds at the VA headquarters.
Even though the story is still being investigated, the fact that a veteran may have died in a hospital parking lot while his family begs employees for help is just the latest sad reminder of the toxic culture at the VA. This is happening in our nation’s capital, and yet nothing is being done.
It’s time to start holding VA employees accountable when they mistreat veterans. Reform is needed, and it’s needed now.
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