AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – There is now a bigger push for an investigation into the care a military veteran received at a Colorado Veterans Affairs hospital.
Rodger Holmes died just two days after CBS4’s Shaun Boyd did a story on him last month. Now both federal and state lawmakers have sent letters to the inspector general asking for a thorough and transparent investigation into the care he received at the VA medical facility in Grand Junction.
“Rodger’s treatment went … very wrong,” Chris Blumenstein said.
Pausing at times to compose himself, Blumenstein, Holmes’ former VA caseworker, went before the Joint Committee on State and Veterans Affairs on Monday and asked for accountability in Holmes’ death whose story has prompted a community outcry.
“He was a friend and mentor to many in Grand Junction community,” Blumenstein said.
The community launched the Saving Veteran Rodger Holmes campaign in September, and CBS4 interviewed Holmes. He died just before Christmas. His former caseworker turned whistleblower says the VA medical facility in Grand Junction is to blame for refusing to send him to a specialist even after months of hospitalization as his liver was failing and a bacterial infection had set in.
“And yet no provider in the hospital was willing to treat him, to put their hands on this man who told his friends that he felt like he was being hidden in the corner — a mistake,” Blumenstein said. “The final outcome of this chaotic and mismanaged care is so appalling that it cannot be accepted without hard questions being asked and being required to be answered.”
State Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster, is now asking those questions in a letter to the inspector general.
“A simple request that there is a thorough, transparent and robust investigation that happens about this care,” Ulibarri said.
“Our veterans deserve better, our Western Colorado veterans deserve better, and certainly Rodger deserved better,” Blumenstein said.
Blumenstein resigned from the VA in protest.
CBS4 reported in December that Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet had also sent a letter to the inspector general asking for an investigation.
Ulibarri told CBS4 all the members of the Joint Committee on State and Veterans Affairs at Monday’s hearing signed the letter he drafted to the inspector general.