A 76-year-old veteran killed himself in the parking lot of a Veterans Affairs hospital on Long Island, New York, according to police.
The Suffolk County Police Department said that Peter A. Kaisen, of Islip, shot himself outside of the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s Building 92, a nursing home, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Two people linked to the hospital, speaking anonymously, told the Times that Kaisen had been angry that he was unable to see a physician over his mental health.
“He went to the E.R. and was denied service,” one of the sources was quoted as saying. “And then he went to his car and shot himself.”
The unnamed worker added that “someone dropped the ball,” adding that staff “should not have turned him away.”
The person asked why he was not referred to Building 64, the hospital’s mental health facility in the first place.
“The employees here at Northport feel this loss deeply and extend their thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by this tragedy,” hospital spokesman Christopher Goodman told the Times. He added, however, there was “was no indication that he presented to the E.R. prior to the incident.”
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Kaisen, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1958 to 1962, had been a patient there. “He went there for help with depression,” Thomas Farley, a friend of Kaisen’s, told Fox News. “That was his last hope, and he didn’t get any help.”
“Maybe he can be used as an example to make things better,” said Farley, who was speaking on behalf of the family. “Maybe we can save someone else’s life.” He added, “That way, he would not have died in vain.”
The hospital is part of the Veterans Affairs medical system, which saw a controversy in 2014 when a report suggested that government officials had intentionally falsified data to cover up how long veterans had been waiting to see doctors at VA hospitals. The report alleged that as many as 1,000 veterans might have died as a result of the delayed care.
Kaisen had been a police officer for the Long Beach Police Department in the late 1960s. Later, he was severely injured in a car crash and had been “on constant medication since,” Farley said.
Farley said he was a good father and grandfather and was respected by his friends and family. “I’m a Vietnam vet—disabled from Agent Orange—and he was always looking out for me. He was such a faithful guy,” Farley said.
“He was such a big advocate for veterans and that’s what makes it’s so sad,” he told Fox.