WKYT Investigates: A family's struggle with the VA

BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WKYT) - We met with four of Louis B. Smith's six children. They all crowded onto a couch in the home of daughter Janette Smith. Their father was a World War II veteran. He was a awarded the Bronze Star for his service.

"Daddy said you don't leave a man behind. He ran out and grabbed the man and pulled him back in the foxhole to safety," said Betty Abell, recalling her father's reason he received the Bronze Star. It's shocking to his family that a man honored for saving others, would, according to them, later be left to die by the country he served.

"They killed him before he died," said son Jodie. His children say the problems started in 2012. He was admitted to the Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center with complaints of severe kidney pain, in hopes of seeing a specialist. They say it took five days to see a kidney specialist.

"Well at that point he had gone too far the other way," Jodie said. So the family had him transferred out of the Lexington VA to Jewish Hospital in Louisville by ambulance.

"It is my belief that they hoped he would just pass away before he was transferred," Janette said.

They say their father was overlooked by the VA because of his advanced age. They say they were told multiple times the 90 year-old had lived a good long life. "Age shouldn't have anything to do with it," Jodie said.

The family says the next year of their father's life was hardly living. Smith died just short of his 92nd birthday. They've yet to be at peace with is passing. They filed a federal tort claim stating their father received negligent care that resulted in a wrongful death.

We reached out to the Lexington VA for comment on this case, they say, "While we cannot comment on specific patient treatment or matters that might involve litigation, we take our mission of providing veterans with quality care very seriously."


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