An Iraq War veteran was shot to death by police after a standoff that lasted several hours on Sunday, only a few days after he had allegedly been turned away for psychiatric treatment from the Kansas City VA.
Shawn’s mother, Patricia Sims, said he recently drove her around Kansas City reminiscing about being back on the battlefield.
“And saying ‘this is how we look for IEDs, Mama. This is what we do. Round and round.’ Then he’d show me on YouTube the videos of an IED exploding,” Mrs. Sims told the station.
Afraid that their son was reaching his breaking point, the parents say they turned to the VA just last week.
“We’ve been saying ‘he’s got a problem, there are issues going on, he’s not normal,’ ” the mother told the station. “They said ‘we don’t have room for you.’ ‘Your problem is not big enough.’ ‘You’ll have to wait.’ ‘Get in line.’ ‘We’ll give him treatment in 30 days if a bed comes available.’ “
Then on Sunday, during a standoff with police, Sgt. Sims pointed an AK-47 at officers, forcing them to shoot and kill him, police said. It was not immediately clear how the standoff began.
The vet’s parents believe their son could still be alive today if he had received proper treatment.
“I know it would’ve. I know it would’ve. It would never have gotten this out of hand,” Mrs. Sims said. “They let him fall through the cracks and he’s dead now because of it.”
The Kansas City VA Medical Center said in a statement that it is aware of the “tragic situation” and offered condolences to the family “at this very difficult time,” however, it refused to comment on Sgt. Sims‘ situation.
“[W]e want to encourage any Veteran (or their family member) who has questions or concerns about the attention or services they are receiving to contact the Kansas City VA Medical Center Director’s Office,” the hospital said.
Sgt. Sims‘ death comes as VA hospitals face a nationwide audit over alleged misconduct and excessive wait times for veterans that may have led to dozens of unnecessary deaths.
Lawmakers have intensified calls for Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to investigate the accusations that the VA submitted fake waiting list times to bolster its numbers while keeping secret lists of the actual wait times for patients.