A 76-year-old veteran of the United States military committed suicide in the parking lot of a VA hospital after allegedly being denied care for his mental condition.
Peter A. Kaisen served in the Navy between the years of 1958 and 1962, but it was his later job as an officer for the Long Beach Police Department that left him permanently disabled after a car accident.
His disability required a lifetime of medication to cope with his injuries, making him a regular visitor at the New York Veterans Affairs hospital.
But on the day of his suicide, despite serving his country, Peter’s VA hospital was allegedly unwilling to serve him.
“He went there for help with depression,” said Thomas Farley, a friend of Peter for 4 decades, “That was his last hope, and he didn’t get any help.”
According to one source within the hospital, speaking with The New York Times:
He went to the E.R. and was denied service. And then he went to his car and shot himself.
Someone dropped the ball. They should not have turned him away.
The VA hospital, however, denies all such allegations and says Peter was not denied care.
“Maybe he can be used as an example to make things better,” said Farley, “Maybe we can save someone else’s life. That way, he would not have died in vain.”
Peter’s suicide—in the parking lot of a VA hospital of all places—symbolically highlights the systemic issues facing Veterans Affairs, including the widespread neglect of American soldiers.
According to one investigation, over a thousand veterans have lost their lives over the last 10 years simply waiting for care.
In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released its own study revealing shocking statistics: between 1999 and 2010, approximately 22 veterans were committing suicide everyday.
“He was such a big advocate for veterans and that’s what makes it so sad,” said Farley.