Veteran Found Dead In Car At Parking Lot Of DC VA Hospital

news
DC VA Medical Center

A congressional committee and the Department of Veterans Affairs have opened an investigation into a veteran found dead in his vehicle parked at the VA medical center in Washington, D.C.


The veteran’s sister found her brother inside his vehicle at the Washington, D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center about 8:30 p.m. May 16. He was reported missing May 15 when he didn’t return from an appointment at the facility, The Associated Press reported.

The veteran was “slumped over and unconscious,” according to a report by the Metropolitan Police Department. The VA chief of police and a VA investigator arrived at the scene and a medic pronounced the veteran dead before police arrived at the hospital, according to the report. A medical examiner is determining the cause of death. The name of the veteran has not been released yet.

The hospital director, retired Army Col. Lawrence Connell, told NBC Washington that he was investigating why the veteran wasn’t discovered sooner after he was reported missing.

VA officials in Washington would not comment Friday about the circumstances of the veteran's death.

However, VA spokesman Mark Ballesteros did offer a statement of sympathy on behalf of the department.

"We are deeply saddened by the death of this veteran, and our condolences go out to his family," he said in a prepared statement.

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is conducting its own investigation, said Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the committee.

“The [committee] is conducting an independent, thorough and ongoing investigation to look at a number of issues at the DC VA Medical Center, including this death, and will continue to demand answers,” Roe said.

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., said the hospital “did not do enough to locate this veteran and inform his family.”

The hospital has been under investigation already by the VA inspector general since March. In an unprecedented move, Inspector General Michael Missal released an interim report in April revealing supply shortages and dirty conditions that posed a risk to patient safety, as well as cultural problems within the facility.

Missal plans to release a full report on the investigation in the next several months.

In response to Missal’s findings, VA Secretary David Shulkin removed the former medical director from his position and sent teams to establish a new inventory system at the hospital. Connell, the new medical director, said weeks ago that many of the problems had been fixed.

Walz asked that Missal incorporate the veteran’s death into the ongoing investigation.

———

©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith)

Three U.S. service members received non-life-threatening injuries after being fired on Monday by an Afghan police officer, a U.S. official confirmed.

The troops were part of a convoy in Kandahar province that came under attack by a member of the Afghan Civil Order Police, a spokesperson for Operation Resolute Support said on Monday.

Read More Show Less

Marine Maj. Jose J. Anzaldua Jr. spent more than three years during the height of the Vietnam War. Now, more than 45 years after his release, Sig Sauer is paying tribute to his service with a special gift.

Sig Sauer on Friday unveiled a unique 1911 pistol engraved with Anzaldua's name, the details of his imprisonment in Vietnam, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" accompanied by the POW-MIA flag on the grip to commemorate POW-MIA Recognition Day.

The gunmaker also released a short documentary entitled "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" — a fitting title given Anzaldua's courageous actions in the line of duty

Marine Maj. Jose Anzaldua's commemorative 1911 pistol

(Sig Sauer)

Born in Texas in 1950, Anzaldua enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam as an intelligence scout assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

On Jan. 23, 1970, he was captured during a foot patrol and spent 1,160 days in captivity in various locations across North Vietnam — including he infamous Hỏa Lò Prison known among American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton" — before he was freed during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973.

Anzaldua may have been a prisoner, but he never stopped fighting. After his release, he received two Bronze Stars with combat "V" valor devices and a Prisoner of War Medal for displaying "extraordinary leadership and devotion to his companions" during his time in captivity. From one of his Bronze Star citations:

Using his knowledge of the Vietnamese language, he was diligent, resourceful, and invaluable as a collector of intelligence information for the senior officer interned in the prison camp.

In addition, while performing as interpreter for other United States prisoners making known their needs to their captors, [Anzaldua] regularly, at the grave risk of sever retaliation to himself, delivered and received messages for the senior officer.

On one occasion, when detected, he refused to implicate any of his fellow prisoners, even though severe punitive action was expected.

Anzaldua also received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in December 1969, when he entered the flaming wreckage of a U.S. helicopter that crashed nearr his battalion command post in the country's Quang Nam Province and rescued the crew chief and a Vietnamese civilian "although painfully burned himself," according to his citation.

After a brief stay at Camp Pendleton following his 1973 release, Anzaldua attended Officer Candidate School at MCB Quantico, Virginia, earning his commission in 1974. He retired from the Corps in 1992 after 24 years of service.

Sig Sauer presented the commemorative 1911 pistol to Anzaldua in a private ceremony at the gunmaker's headquarters in Newington, New Hampshire. The pistol's unique features include:

  • 1911 Pistol: the 1911 pistol was carried by U.S. forces throughout the Vietnam War, and by Major Anzaldua throughout his service. The commemorative 1911 POW pistol features a high-polish DLC finish on both the frame and slide, and is chambered in.45 AUTO with an SAO trigger. All pistol engravings are done in 24k gold;
  • Right Slide Engraving: the Prisoner of War ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor and "Major Jose Anzaldua" engravings;
  • Top Slide Engraving: engraved oak leaf insignia representing the Major's rank at the time of retirement and a pair of dog tags inscribed with the date, latitude and longitude of the location where Major Anzaldua was taken as a prisoner, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" taken from the POW-MIA flag;
  • Left Side Engraving: the Vietnam War service ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor engraving;
  • Pistol Grips: anodized aluminum grips with POW-MIA flag.

The top leaders of a Japan-based Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet squadron were fired after an investigation into a deadly mid-air collision last December found that poor training and an "unprofessional command climate" contributed to the crash that left six Marines dead, officials announced on Monday.

Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Super Hercules and one Marine onboard an F/A-18D Hornet were killed in the Dec. 6, 2018 collision that took place about 200 miles off the Japanese coast. Another Marine aviator who was in the Hornet survived.

Read More Show Less

A former Army soldier was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday for stealing weapons from Fort Bliss, along with other charges.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Corey Hook)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released an alarming report Friday showing that at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017, with little sign that the crisis is abating despite suicide prevention being the VA's top priority.

Although the total population of veterans declined by 18% during that span of years, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide annually, according to the VA's 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.

Read More Show Less