A 76-year-old veteran of the United States Navy committed suicide outside of a New York VA hospital after allegedly being denied care.
Peter A. Kaisen, who served in the Navy from 1958 to 1962, shot and killed himself outside the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center after he was allegedly denied care by the facility even though he was a recurring patient.
"He went there for help with depression," Thomas Farley, a friend of Kaisen's for 40 years, told Fox News. "That was his last hope, and he didn't get any help."
In the 1960s, Kaisen was injured in a car accident while working as an officer for the Long Beach Police Department. His injuries left him permanently disabled and he required constant medication.
Sources told The New York Times that before taking his life, Kaisen was upset because the VA hospital would not allow him to see an emergency-room physician for a mental health condition.
“He went to the E.R. and was denied service,” one person who currently works at the hospital, told the paper. “And then he went to his car and shot himself.”
“Someone dropped the ball,” the source said. "They should not have turned him away.”
The hospital claims Kaisen did not go to the ER before killing himself.
Kaisen’s family hopes the tragedy will help make VA services better.
"Maybe he can be used as an example to make things better," Farley, speaking on behalf of the family, said. "Maybe we can save someone else’s life."
"That way, he would not have died in vain," he said.
Over the past two years, multiple reports of issues at VA hospitals have surfaced, including rejected medical claims, delays in treatment, multiple deaths of veterans whose treatment was delayed, and fraudulent bookkeeping to cover up wait times and deaths in order for executives to qualify for bonuses.
An investigation by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma found that as many as 1,000 veterans over the past decade may have died waiting for care or treatment.
Farley is saddened by the passing of his friend Kaisen.
"I’m a Vietnam vet — disabled from Agent Orange — and he was always looking out for me. He was such a faithful guy," he said.
"He was such a big advocate for veterans and that’s what makes it’s so sad," Farley said.
According to Kaisen’s obituary on Moloney Family Funeral Homes’ website he chose to be cremated.
“Devoted husband, beloved father, grandfather, cherished friend and brother,” his obituary reads.