The family of Missouri veteran Sgt. Isaac Shawn Sims, 26, begged the Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center to admit him for chronic migraines and post-traumatic stress disorder, but the hospital told the family they would have to wait 30 days to see if a bed became available.
Sims died Sunday, one week after he was turned away by the VA, in a shootout with Kansas City police, who said he pointed an AK-47 rifle at them.
His family says he was scarred by seeing all of his friends die in combat.
"He had to pick up body parts, he had to move forward as if nothing happened," his mother, Patricia Sims, told KCTV5.
She said her son had been driving his Hummer around Kansas City believing he was back in combat.
"And saying ‘This is how we look for IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) mama. This is what we do. Round and round.' Then he'd show me on YouTube the videos of an IED exploding," she recalled him saying while she sat in the passenger seat.
"An eardrum had been blown out and he has 80 percent disability from brain injuries," his mother said.
She told the VA he suffered chronic migraines, depression and was behaving strangely.
"We've been saying 'He's got a problem, there are issues going on, he's not normal,'" she said.
Patricia Sims believes that her son's death would have been avoided if the VA had moved more quickly.
"I know it would've. I know it would've. It would never have gotten this out of hand," she said.
The family says they do not want others to experience the same tragedy.
"They let him fall through the cracks and he's dead now because of it," she added. “But they’re slow; they’re overbooked; they put him off and they put him off and now he’s dead.”
The Kansas City VA Medical Center says it is investigating the incident.
"We are aware of this tragic situation and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this very difficult time,” it said in a statement. “We are unable to comment on an ongoing police investigation or on care provided to a particular Veteran. However, we want to encourage any Veteran (or their family member) who has questions or concerns about the attention or services they are receiving to contact the Kansas City VA Medical Center Director's Office."