Local widow claims neglect by Veterans Affairs clinic

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- A Kennewick widow believes her husband might have died from poor treatment by the VA. She claims the clinic mistreated and neglected her late husband and that, with proper care, he might still be alive.

Kay Grejdus still has trouble talking about her late husband, Tom, nearly a year after his death.

"My husband would be here today if he had been treated, and he wasn't," said Kay.

For more than seven years, the former Navy SEAL suffered chest pains, dizziness and headaches. The couple made multiple trips to VA clinics in the Tri-Cities before being sent to Seattle.

"They would talk about his blood pressure, talked about all kinds of stuff, but it was never addressed, never addressed," said Kay.

What was never addressed was a tumor. An MRI found one in the back of his head. Before he could make it to surgery, Tom died last summer of a heart attack.

"He suffered so bad, he could have been dealt with, not weeks or months before he died, he would could have been dealt with years before, and he'd probably be here today," said Kay.

Tom was treated three times at the VA clinic in Seattle. One of those who treated him says he is shocked Tom was sent home without being admitted. That VA employee asked to remain anonymous.

"To the best of my knowledge, it was neglect, because he was a prime candidate for this observation," said the employee.

"Disappointment, absolutely," said Kay. "Anger - yeah, yeah, I'm angry. I am angry. He shouldn't be where he is at; he should be sitting right here."

Kay reached out to Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Doc Hastings. They all say they are in the process of investigating the matter.

The VA employee alleges this is not the only time he's seen a case that he believed should have included more treatment or testing.

"If they looked at it for that particular moment, that second in time, then that's not enough time," the employee said. "You can't look at somebody for five or ten minutes and say, 'Oh, OK, you're great.'"

And for wives like Kay, she just hopes her story will help another.

"I was worth the extra five minutes," she said. "I was worth the time to get the MRI years ago that I should have had. I was worth it. I was not a throw away person, I was worth it."

Kay says she is not planning any legal recourse against the VA at this point. She is more concerned about helping other families who may be in a similar situation.