Douglas Chase, a Vietnam veteran from Boston, died of a brain tumor in 2012 after four months of waiting to receive medical care at a Veterans Affairs hospital. The VA contacted his widow, Suzanne Chase, two weeks ago, to offer her deceased husband a doctor's appointment.
"It was 22 months too late," Chase told WBZ. "I kind of thought I was in the twilight zone when I opened this letter and read it."
Chase was stunned by the letter, since the VA ostensibly knew of her husband's death–she had applied for funeral benefits in 2012 and was rejected.
When a CBS team contacted the VA about Chase's story, their media representative's first response was "Oh, dear."
The VA later sent out a lengthier statement, saying they "apologize for our error and any difficulties this has caused you" and "are reviewing this Veteran’s case."
They appeared to blame the incident on recent efforts to correct their widespread scheduling failures:
As part of the corrective actions taken to address scheduling issues, VA launched the Accelerating Access to Care Initiative, a nationwide program to ensure timely access to care. VA has identified Veterans across the system experiencing waits that do not meet Veterans’ expectations for timeliness. VA has been contacting and scheduling Veterans who are waiting for care. We regret causing any pain in this effort.
The statement added that the VA Acting Director called Suzanne Chase to apologize, but was unable to reach her and would call again.