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Reports of veteran's death by the VA are greatly exaggerated


An 81-year-old Army veteran in Wisconsin was told incorrectly that he was dead last week, in a letter that was just one of several that continue to pour out of the Department of Veterans Affairs insisting that people have died before their time.

"It said I was dead and not to cash any more checks," Kenneth Brunner told the Wisconsin State Journal last week. "I read that and I said holy…"

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 10.07.04 AM Kenneth Brunner holds up the letter he received from the VA saying he had passed away.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Amber Arnold

"We are sorry to learn about the death of KENNETH BRUNNER and extend to you our deepest sympathy," the letter said. "We understand that the transition period following the death of a loved one is difficult and we wish to offer our assistance and our appreciation for the honorable service of KENNETH BRUNNER."

A spokesman for the VA told the State Journal that the letter was sent in error, and said these errors occur "infrequently."

But the press has written several stories about living veterans getting letters announcing their death from the VA.

WPVI in Philadelphia reported over the summer that Sergeant Russell Jones was told by the VA that he was dead, and that the VA denied him benefits because of his status.

"The veteran died on and an original death claim was received on July 12th," the letter said.

"I don't even think it was an error," he told WPVI. "I think they don't care. I think they tried to push this out, or push out these claims as fast as they could and they just overlooked the simple fact."

And while the VA has tried to deny some benefits to living veterans, it has also been known to take so long to set up medical appointments for veterans that they die before those appointments are set.

In July, WBZ-TV in Boston reported that veteran Douglas Chase finally got an appointment for medical treatment nearly two years after he died.

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