By Debbie Gregory.
A 76-year-old former Navy gunner killed himself outside a Long Island Veteran Affairs facility after allegedly being denied treatment for mental health issues. The tragedy unfolded at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Peter Kaisen, a retired police officer from Islip, New York, shot himself in the parking lot outside Building 92, the facility’s nursing home. He had served on Navy supply ship USS Denebola in the late ’50s through the early ’60s.
Kaisen’s wife, Joan, said that her husband had been suffering from back pain so severe that he was unable to sit for more than a few minutes. Doctors at Northport told her husband earlier this year there was nothing more they could do to ease his suffering.
Longtime friend and fellow veteran, Tom Farley, said, “We all think there is probably some depression. Maybe he wanted meds. Maybe he wanted to sit and talk. I don’t know. None of the family knows.”
Hospital spokesman, Christopher Todd Goodman, said the hospital had no evidence that Kaisen sought treatment at the emergency room, entered any hospital buildings or had any interactions with staff or patients on the day he died. But he added, “The employees here at Northport feel this loss deeply and extend their thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by this tragedy.”
U.S. Reps. Peter King and Steve Israel have requested an FBI investigation into the death.
There are a number of resources available to veterans who are struggling with mental health issues. We hope anyone in a similar situation will reach out for help to resources such as Give an Hour and the Veteran Crisis Line.