When Sgt. Isaac Shawn Sims, 26, an Iraq veteran, turned to the Kansas City VA Medical Center for help, he was allegedly turned away. His mother, Patricia, says her son badly needed treatment for traumas suffered in combat.
On Sunday, Sims was shot and killed by police officers following a tense standoff.
The tragic story comes as the VA scandal reaches a boiling point.
Sims had his eardrum blown out and has “80 percent disability from brain injuries,” his mother told KCTV. But his injuries are not just physical. Patricia Sims said her son suffered from severe depression, migraines and PTSD as a result of watching his friends die in combat.
"He had to pick up body parts, he had to move forward as if nothing happened," the mother recalled.
Patricia said she knew her son badly needed help after she witnessed her son driving around in his Hummer like he was back in a war zone. He reportedly told his mom, “this is how we look for IEDs mama.”
Frightened and worried, they asked the VA for help. They didn't expect to receive the response that they claim they did.
"They said ‘we don't have room for you.' ‘Your problem is not big enough.' ‘You'll have to wait.' ‘Get in line.' ‘We'll give him treatment in 30 days if a bed comes available,'" Patricia Sims said.
About one week after being turned away, Sims found himself in an hours-long standoff with Kansas City police. Police say the veteran pointed an AK-47 at cops, causing them to fatally shoot him.
The parents allege that their son would likely still be alive if he received timely treatment from the VA. Instead, "They let him fall through the cracks and he's dead now because of it," Patricia Sims said.
In a statement, the Kansas City VA Medical Center said it is “unable to comment on an ongoing police investigation or on care provided to a particular Veteran.”
“However, we want to encourage any Veteran (or their family member) who has questions or concerns about the attention or services they are receiving to contact the Kansas City VA Medical Center Director's Office,” the statement added.