This was originally published on Liberal America on August 26, 2016.
Peter A. Kaisen, of Islip, a 76-year-old veteran, shot himself outside of the nursing home at the Northport VA Medical Center.
A couple of the people working at the hospital said Kaisen had been in the Emergency Room for mental health reasons and had been denied care. He went to his car and shot himself after that.
A hospital worker said:
“Someone dropped the ball. They should not have turned him away.”
The mental health center was supposed to be open 24/7. They were supposed to have a psychiatrist on call.
Since the death occurred on federal property, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has opened an investigation into the incident.
Kaisen’s 51-year-old son-in-law, Brian Henke, said:
“He was a family man. Loved NASCAR, loved animals, [loved] his three daughters and seven grandchildren.”
Kaisen was a regular patient at the VA. His family believes that he was suffering from depression.
The hospital released this statement:
“The employees here at Northport feel this loss deeply and extend their thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by this tragedy. We are committed to addressing the needs of all Veterans who are in crisis, and want Veterans and their loved ones to know we stand ready to help whenever possible. The Veterans Crisis Line is a resource that connects Veterans in crisis with qualified, caring VA responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
There are way too many veterans in this country who are not getting the mental health treatment they need. A new internet trend, 22 Pushups Challenge, is aiming to show awareness to this growing problem. You do 22 pushups on video; it is similar to the ALS “ice bucket challenge” from a few years ago. Trae Crowder did a video about it.