The Veteran’s Administration’s crimes have been well documented and exposed. According to a report by the VA’s inspector general published last year, over 307,000 veterans had waited for care from the organization. Another 866,879 records were marked “pending. The report also found that VA staffers commonly marked unprocessed applications incorrectly, and may have deleted over 10,000 records in the past five years.
But if you thought allowing veterans to die was the VA’s worst crime, what they’re doing after their deaths certainly makes it even worse. As Fox News reported, the Administration just sunk to a new low.
An Illinois Veterans Affairs hospital already under fire for excessive wait times, festering black mold and kitchen cockroaches faces a new shame – the bodies of dead patients left unclaimed in the morgue for up to two months without proper burial, whistleblower documents allege.
The whistleblower, whose identity is not being revealed for fear of retaliation, complained last month to the VA’s inspector general about the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital’s handling of veterans’ remains in cases where families have not come forward to claim the body. The complaint singled out Christopher Wirtjes, chief of Patient Administrative Services, saying “The Chief of PAS has the funds available, yet has no sense of urgency to lay the veteran to rest.”
Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., whose office also received the complaint along with emails, is now calling for Wirtjes’ firing and in a statement, slammed the hospital – located in the Western suburbs of Chicago — over its recent history of controversies.
The whistleblower, who has spoken with Kirk’s office, described a “horrible issue” at the hospital in the letter to the IG: “Some veteran’s remains have been left in our hospital morgue for 45 days or more until they are stacked to capacity at times.”
On at least one occasion, a body had liquefied and the bag burst when staff had attempted to move it, said Alissa McCurley, Kirk’s deputy chief of staff. Internal VA emails chronicle how a frustrated Hines clerk attempted to obtain permission from Wirtjes for burial of unclaimed veterans on three occasions.
The first email chain began on Dec. 7, 2015.
“[There is] an invoice for an unclaimed veteran that has been here for over 30 days. Please approve for burial at Abraham Lincoln,” the clerk wrote to Wirtjes and several others. Three days later, the clerk wrote again: “Approval of unclaimed Vet D?? Status?”
On Dec. 23, the clerk wrote to human resources: “Any further on my poor unclaimed? I WILL file a police report, but I hate doing that…” Emails from June 14, 2016 and Aug. 29, 2016 state that two different veterans languished in the morgue for a month or more.
The VA is letting our veterans die – then standing by idly even after it’s too late.
Donald Trump has said we treat illegal aliens better than our veterans – and considering the number of illegals able to receive healthcare free of charge through Obamacare or the emergency room loophole, he’s right. Plus they get all those benefits without the wait. This is despicable.
[Note: This post was written by The Analytical Economist]