Family of veteran who died waiting for care at the VA speaks out - FOX 35 News Orlando

Family of veteran who died waiting for care at the VA speaks out

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PHOENIX - The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs will now be looking into allegations of mismanagement and neglect at the Phoenix VA health care system.

A congressional report concluded as many as 40 Arizona veterans may have died while waiting to see a doctor at the VA.

When the 71-year-old navy veteran Thomas Breen  first showed signs of what turned out to be cancer his daughter-in-law tried to take him to the hospital near their San Tan Valley home.

"He stated oh no,  I am a veteran. VA is the hospital to be at. I went to the New York one and I can't give up the VA hospital. he honored that hospital.," said Sally Barnes-Breen.

He was seen at the VA's emergency room, then sent home and told to make an appointment with a primary care doctor. His daughter in-law called to make the appointment and was told this; "ma'am there is there a 7 month wait you have to have patience". "I said but you... please, please read the record, it says urgent, my pop is still bleeding ,please we are home now. A week goes by, two weeks go by, we keep calling, keep calling, and nothing," she said.

For more than two months they waited and Breen's condition worsened.

"It is unforgivable and it is unforgettable. Unforgivable for the VA to ever decline someone and throw him to the curb. I could have gotten better care if I took him to a veterinarian hospital," said Barnes-Breen.

The 71-year-old veteran died on November 30th. The death certificate lists the cause as stage 4 bladder cancer. Then, week after his death, the VA called to make an appointment.

"I was screaming, how dare you, do you know my father is dead, thank you VA. I was really yelling, I didn't want to yell at nobody but how could you not," she said.

"I won't give up because someone has to help change this. I am begging begging families to come forward nobody be scared. it is all for good souls," she said.

The VA issued a statement on the case, "We offer our deepest condolences to the Breen family. Out of respect for their privacy, we can't talk about Mr. Breen's care specifically. Every death is a tragedy. The Phoenix VA Health Care System maintains robust internal reviews of every death to ensure standards of care are met".
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