A Virginia U.S. Navy veteran ended his life in front of a Veterans Administration clinic, faulting the agency in his suicide note for failing to help him with chronic pain.
This June 10, 2014 photo shows the Chattanooga Veterans Administration outpatient clinic in Chattanooga, Tenn. The director of the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System said Wednesday, June 11, 2014 that it will soon receive as much as $15 million to address an audit showing long wait times for veterans. (AP Photo/Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free, Dan Henry)
“FU VA!!! Can’t take it anymore,” the note said.
Kevin Keller, 52, who served on the USS Independence in the early 1980s, shot himself in front of the clinic after apparently shooting out a window at night, South West Virginia Today reported. It was an incident that demonstrates a tragic end for a veteran frustrated with a federal agency that has been in the news for months for lack of care for veterans.
He left the letter in the home of his best friend, a man named Marty Austin, after breaking into his home and taking a gun.
“Marty sorry I broke into your house and took your gun to end the pain!” the note also said.
The local VA clinic would not comment to the newspaper about the condition of Keller.
“Salem VA Medical Center staff extends our sincere condolences to the family and friends of this veteran,” said Ann Benois, who works in customer service and public relations at the medical center.
“Due to privacy regulations, we are unable to provide any information related to the care and treatment plan of this specific veteran. Our many successes in treatment does not ease the loss of any veteran. We will continue to offer the best medical and mental health care possible.”
“The whole deal is sad,” his friend John Andres, who served with Keller on the Independence, told the newspaper. “To make a statement like that, to kill himself in the parking lot of the VA; he was basically telling them this is senseless.”
In October 2013, VA announced the Opioid Safety Initiative to reduce the use of opioids among veterans in VA care.
Austin said Keller, his friend for 30 years, suffered with chronic pain after surviving a stroke 11 years ago.
“I realize there are people in this world hooked on drugs, but he needed the pain medicine,” Austin told the newspaper.