Apparently, it's not fair to say that all veterans are denied health care from the VA and never get to set an appointment. On Monday, CBS Boston reported that Douglas Chase, a veteran of the Vietnam War who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2011, recently received a letter saying he can now contact the VA to schedule an appointment to see a doctor. But there's just one tiny hitch. Chase died in August 2012.
“He was steadfast. He took care of us, all of these years,” said Chase's widow, Suzanne.
According to CBS, Chase tried to move her husband's medical care to the VA hospital in Bedford.
“It was so difficult for him to take the ambulance ride into Boston, we wanted to be closer," she said. They waited four months and still heard nothing from the hospital. Eventually, Chase died from the tumor.
But two weeks ago, Chase received the letter saying he can now schedule an appointment. Suzanne expressed anger over the department’s late response.
"It was 22 months too late,” she said. “I kind of thought I was in the twilight zone when I opened this letter and read it.”
Worse yet, the letter added: “We are committed to providing primary care in a timely manner and would greatly appreciate a prompt response.”
“I was like you have to be kidding, right,” she said. According to Chase, the VA should have known her husband was dead because she filed for survivor's benefits. She was denied those benefits, she added, because her husband never received treatment from the VA.
“It is absurd,” Chase told CBS. “It made me angry because I just don’t think our veterans should be treated this way.”
Chase wrote the Bedford VA two weeks ago, but received no response. When CBS contacted the facility, the media person simply said: "Oh dear."
“We regret any distress our actions caused to the Veteran’s widow and family," the VA said in a statement. "At the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, our most important mission is to provide the high quality health care and benefits Veterans have earned and deserve – where and when they need it."
The agency said it is reviewing Chase's case, and promised it would take measures to ensure such an oversight never happens again. The statement also said Acting Director Sloan Gibson attempted to contact Chase to apologize and was unable to leave a voicemail.
"The Acting Director will call the Veteran’s widow again tomorrow. We want to be sure that she is, as well as other Veterans and their family members are, treated with dignity and respect,” the statement added.