06 June 2014

A United States Veteran (My Father) Is Dying Because He Is Not Receiving Care from the US Department of Veterans Affairs

Hon. Mark Amodei
United States Congress
5310 Kietzke Lane, Suite 103
Reno, NV 89511

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20420

Dear Congressman Amodei and the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs:

My father is a veteran of the United States Air Force from the Vietnam War. I last contacted you at the beginning of this year to file a complaint on his behalf regarding the lack of health care he was receiving from the Veterans Administration. My father is one of your constituents.

The response from your office to me was that you cannot accept a complaint from me on behalf of my father because I, myself, am not a constituent. I write to you once again because my father is no longer in a position to advocate for himself, due to his deteriorating health. The situation is so grave that the VA had him to fill out a living will and send it to me, via express mail.

My father's health has continued to deteriorate because he is not receiving the care he needs from the VA. He has uncontrolled hypertension, and the medication the VA gave him ten years ago hasn't worked.

Dad called me yesterday to advise me that he has just been diagnosed with kidney failure. He also has been having TIAs. It takes so long for him to get follow-up appointments that his condition could never be adequately managed. Dad now is in an emergency situation and the VA is moving as slowly as it ever has: they will not be able to perform an EMERGENCY ultrasound until AUGUST 30TH, and that is just to confirm the diagnosis. If, in fact, he is in kidney failure, my father could be dead by the time the test that is needed to confirm his diagnosis is able to be performed.

Additionally, he was sent home yesterday, alone, with a fever greater than 103 degrees, because the VA did not have the capacity to take him in. Yet, they still will not provide any follow-up care for three months, at which point he may no longer alive. Is that the modus operandi of the VA, to delay providing treatment to our heroes until the matter becomes moot? From what I've been hearing in the media lately, it certainly seems that such is the case.

My father has waited more than nine months to receive care at the VA regarding his issues since moving to Reno and has not received proper medical attention. The lack of proper care he has received over the past decade, since turning to the VA for medical care, has crated his current medical condition, which is grave.

This is unacceptable. 

This situation must be corrected and my father must receive the treatment that he -- as someone who fought for this country and for freedom and democracy in the world -- needs, immediately. It is not my concern that I am not one of your constituents; my father is your constituent -- that should be sufficient. If it is not, I will make certain that all of your constituents learn that your office failed to take action to bring one of your constituents -- a veteran of this country's foreign wars who received a Purple Heart -- the health care he needs to remain alive.

I expect to be apprised by the end of business today that positive action has been taken to deliver my father the health care he needs and that it will be provided on an ongoing basis, in a timely manner. I need not remind you of the current media hurricane regarding situations such as my father's. I have no qualms with filing a wrongful death action against your offices, specifically, for failing to take care of one of this country's heroes if he does not immediately receive the medical services that he needs.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at 914-417-9579 with any questions or concerns you may have. My father's contact information, quoted below, has not changed.

Very sincerely yours,
-Peter C. Frank

PS I am posting this to my blog at http://petercfrank.blogspot.com/

[UPDATE 6/9/2014] I received a call from the Congressmember's office on both Friday, 6/6 and Monday, 6/9 -- but only after I called the office, spoke with a staffer, and forwarded them this e-mail. The call back on Friday was to advise me that they had received my forwarded e-mail and would look into the matter and get back to me on Monday, which they did.

The staffer from his office advised me that they contacted the Reno VA facility, which advised them that my father has only been there three times since moving to Reno late last year, and repeated the suggested that I obtain power of attorney over my father.

The staffer also kindly offered to "keep an eye" on my father's status and condition through the VA. The next time I speak with the staffer, I will ask them why they are unable to do more unless I have power of attorney over my father. It should be enough that my father is a constituent, and that I am trying to see that he receives proper medical care that the US Government offered him when he received his Purple Heart.

At the very least, there is one staffer in Congressmember Amodei's office who is compassionate and probably stepping over some stupid rules or regulations to have done as much for me as they did. If this is in fact the case, then I am shielding their identity so they don't get into any trouble over providing assistance to one of their boss's constituents after being alerted to the issue by a non-constituent family member. If you ask me, the whole situation is just utter nonsense.

Finally, an article was published in Military Times about this entire debacle, and mentioned my father's situation, specifically: IG: 69 VA facilities probed for manipulating appointments.

On Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 2:27 PM, Peter C. Equality Frank <pcfrank73@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Mr. Gray,

I write on behalf of my father, a United States Air Force Veteran of the Vietnam War, who recently moved (just before Thanksgiving) to Congressman Amodei's district in Reno, NV.

My father went to the emergency room of the VA Sierra Nevada Healthcare System in Reno around Thanksgiving, complaining of a few different ailments. Long story short, the doctor in the ER suspects he might have a blood clot in his legs and referred him to orthopaedics for a follow-up.

Despite weekly phone calls to the VA Sierra Nevada Healthcare System orthopaedics department, my father has not received even notification of an appointment for a consultation with the specialist that the emergency room referred him to. When he calls, they advise him, "Your name is on a list and you'll just have to wait."

My father has been unable to go out much because of the severe pain that he has been in, and instead of getting settled into his new home and looking for a job, he has been home-bound due to the extreme difficulty he has with walking.

In short, my father's condition has not improved since his visit to the ER and may be getting worse. If he does have a blood clot, he cannot afford to wait months or years for an appointment to have it diagnosed, as he will be dead.

My father has no other insurance other than the health care promised him by the US government as a Veteran of the Vietnam War and cannot afford to purchase additional health care on his own, given that his sole source of income at the moment is social security retirement (he is not yet old enough to be eligible for Medicare).

Considering the potentially fatal consequences of an undiagnosed blood clot, I find his mistreatment by the Veterans Administration to be absolutely appalling.

I have consulted with an attorney in New York, where I live (and where my father is from--obviously not to initiate legal action but to seek counsel), and the attorney has suggested that, should anything happen to my father, the VA Sierra Nevada Healthcare System may be liable for gross negligence and dereliction of care. He also suggested that the hospital should have given him a referral for a vascular consultation, as well as the orthopaedic consult.

My father's information is as follows:

Peter V. Frank
Reno, NV 89502

The treatment of any Veteran of a foreign war in such a disgraceful manner is reprehensible and a blight upon our nation.

I trust your office will see to the immediate rectification of this unacceptable situation.

Should you have any questions, you may contact me at (914) 417-9579 or by this e-mail address.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Kind regards,
-Peter C. Frank