Friday, February 6, 2009

Two items related to claims against the government for injuries to vets is reporting today that the parents of a 21-year-old ex-Marine who died of a heroin overdose are suing the Department of Veterans Affairs, saying admissions personnel at a VA hospital in Pennsylvania incorrectly advised their son that he was ineligible for medical coverage assistance when he sought treatment there the day before he died. The story is available here. The suit alleges that VA officials told Robert Cafici he was ineligible because of his less than honorable discharge. Cafici had gone to a VA hospital in Lebanon, Pa., on Dec. 13, 2007, complaining of symptoms of jaundice, according to his parents, Vincent and Concetta Cafici. The lawsuit claims that a routine check of VA medical records would have shown VA personnel in Pennsylvania that Cafici was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and other unspecified ailments at the Veterans Administration Medical Center at Northport. Doctors there considered him a suicide risk because of a similar overdose six months earlier, according to the records.The lawsuit, which was drafted last year, comes amid allegations by veterans groups that Washington has been incompetent in addressing the psychological needs of U.S. troops and veterans stressed by more than seven years of war. Last month, both the Army and the Marines released figures showing sharp increases in suicides among uniformed personnel. In a related story, the US Army just released a report that concludes that more soldiers killed themselves than died in combat last month. A CNN story on the report, which an Army official is quoted as calling "terrifying:, is available here. Jonathan Turley also reports that the Marines are also reporting an increase in suicides: 41 in 2008, up from 33 in 2007 and 25 in 2006, according to a Marines report. The situation of the men and women in the armed forces is a huge political topic that goes beyond issues of tort law and that we don't have time to discuss here, although in our class we will discuss some aspects of it. Click here for other posts on torts stories and claims related to the military.

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