Story 1: In Kentucky, an Army veteran died in 2013 at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital. According to his mother’s Facebook page, the death certificate said, “The ultimate etiology of his illness that led to his passing is still unknown.”
It seems like doctors would have given this obviously ill veteran special care. As usual, the devil is in the details. On her Facebook page, the mother talks of medical staff forcing her bedridden son to “sign a contract” agreeing to do whatever staff said ... under threat of withholding progressive treatment. She talks of being told he was only “taking up space.” She tells of care meetings being canceled, nurses ignoring emergency alarms, and open, hand-size wounds on his back.
He weighed 72 pounds when he died. He left a wife and two young sons.
Story 2: In Alabama, a veteran is desperate not to starve to death. After three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he knew he had PTSD and went to the VA with symptoms that include extreme nausea and vomiting. He eventually lost his job and his fiancée over it. VA doctors couldn’t put a name on his illness. Their solution: Cut a hole in his stomach so he can feed himself Boost milkshakes with a stomach pump as his only nutrition.
VA officials then said it’s not their problem, so they wouldn’t pay for his stomach pump or supplies anymore because it’s past the “authorized service period.”
Now that the veteran has shrunk from 267 pounds down to 130, they’re going to do some more tests.
The VA has a page that describes these unexplained illnesses, saying they’re presumptive for service connection. Undiagnosed illness with abnormal weight loss is listed. Why can’t it figure out what this is?
Freddy Groves regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.