US authorities investigate deaths at military veterans hospital
Story Code : 813304
The VA said on Tuesday that the deaths are under investigation at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg.
"The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General has been working with our federal law enforcement partners to investigate the allegations of potential wrongdoing resulting in patient deaths," VA Inspector General Michael Missal said in a statement, declining further comment.
US Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said as many as 11 deaths are under investigation and there was a "person of interest".
Manchin said he was assured by VA officials "that the person of interest is no longer in contact with veterans at the VA facility."
"These crimes shock the conscience and I'm still appalled they were not only committed but that our veterans, who have sacrificed so much for our country, were the victims," he added.
In a claim filed last week, the family of Felix Kirk McDermott, a patient who died at the VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, alleged he was "injected with a fatal dose of insulin, either negligently or willfully, by an unidentified person" while he was a patient at the hospital.
The 82-year-old Army veteran did not suffer from diabetes and had never been diagnosed with the disease either, the claim states. McDermott died in April 2018.
The Armed Forces Medical Examiner ruled that the manner of McDermott's death was homicide, the claim states.
Many US veterans returning from conflict zones suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues.
More than 6,000 veterans have killed themselves each year since 2008, according to the VA data.
Veteran suicide rates increased 26 percent between 2005 and 2016, as suicide rates in the overall US population also increased.
The suicide rate was 1.5 times greater for veterans than for adults who never served in the military, even after adjusting for age and gender.