On Sunday afternoon, 76-year-old Navy vet Peter Kaisen took his own life in the parking lot of a New York VA hospital.
As information continues to emerge, the circumstances surrounding Kaisen’s death only serve to make the tragic situation even more agonizing.
Two hospital workers — who spoke to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity — say that Kaisen had come to Long Island’s Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Sunday seeking “an emergency-room physician for reasons related to his mental health.”
As one worker put it:
“He went to the E.R. and was denied service. And then he went to his car and shot himself.”
The workers added that “someone dropped the ball” and that the hospital — where Kaisen had been a patient — “should not have turned him away.”
However, Christopher Goodman — a spokesperson for the hospital — has countered this claim, saying that “there was no indication Kaisen had shown up at the ER prior to his suicide.”
In May, the same facility came under fire after it was forced to cancel the surgeries of more than 100 veterans when black particles began spitting out of the air vents in its operating rooms.
Decaying Long Island V.A. Hospital Closes Operating Rooms: The five rooms at the Northport Veterans Affairs M… https://t.co/bfmVx5Xhoa
— Brenda Gwendoline (@BrendaGwen_) May 20, 2016
Kaisen, who served in the Navy from 1958 to 1962, also served as an officer with the Long Beach Police Department in the 60s, during which time he was severely injured in a car accident. He had reportedly been on “constant medication” ever since.
Thomas Farley, a friend of Kaisen for 40 years, spoke on the grieving family’s behalf:
“He went there for help with depression. That was his last hope, and he didn’t get any help.”
Farley adds that he hopes his friend’s death “can be used as an example to make things better,” and hopefully “can save someone else’s life.”
As the grandfather’s suicide occurred on federal property, the FBI has launched an investigation into the matter, though they note that they’ve uncovered “nothing criminal at this time.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs notes that 22 veterans commit suicide each day.
Kaisen — described as “a family man” who loved NASCAR and animals — leaves behind three daughters and seven grandchildren.