After his 2011 diagnosis, Vietnam War veteran Douglas Chase wanted to take advantage of a Veterans Affairs medical facility close to his home. Suffering from a brain tumor, however, the Acton, Mass. man was forced to commute back and forth to Boston until his death in August of 2012.
“It was so difficult for him to take the ambulance ride into Boston,” his widow, Suzanne, told WBZ-TV. “We wanted to be closer.”
In the nearly two years since Chase’s death, the VA has come under increased scrutiny for its denial of prompt treatment, an alleged cover-up, and even assertions that the department is retaliating against employees who attempt to expose wrongdoing.
Suzanne Chase, however, recently learned just how out of control certain aspects of the department have become when she made her daily trip to the mailbox. About two weeks ago, she reportedly found a letter from the VA.
“It was addressed to my husband and I opened it,” she explained. “I was in complete disbelief.”
In the letter, the department informed the deceased Chase that he now qualifies for an appointment with a doctor at the local facility.
“It was 22 months too late,” his widow lamented.
She said that reading the letter made her feel like she was “in the Twilight Zone,” explaining its concluding sentence was especially absurd.
“We are committed to providing primary care in a timely manner and would greatly appreciate a prompt response,” the letter stated.
“I was like ‘You have to be kidding, right?” Suzanne Chase said.
By getting the media involved, she said she hopes other veterans and their families will be spared similar mistreatment.
“I am hoping that if other people speak out, they can improve the system so no one else dies waiting for an appointment,” she said.
When contacted by WBZ, the station reports a VA spokesperson initially responded to Chase’s experience with a succinct, “Oh dear.”
Subsequently, the department released a lengthy statement apologizing for “any distress our actions caused to the Veteran’s widow and family.”
The VA’s acting director has made efforts to personally apologize to Suzanne Chase, the statement explained. Furthermore, the department noted that it has launched “the Accelerating Access to Care Initiative, a nationwide program to ensure timely access to care.”
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom