WASHINGTON – On Jan. 30 U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2nd) sent a letter to President Trump asking for assistance and answers from the local Veterans Affairs branch on a situation that ultimately lead to one of his constituent’s, Gerald Keenan, dying.
According to a release, in the letter Van Drew requested three issues be addressed:
- A change to the current 100 mile radius to schedule Compensation and Pension Exams.
- A physical VBA presence in South New Jersey.
- A review of the current process for accepted medical documentation for compensation claims.
“Gerald Keenan served his country with honor and distinction. It is unconscionable that we would have rules in place that would place burdens on older veterans. I am asking the President and the VA for a thorough review of this case, and asking for answers on how this situation could happen.” stated Van Drew. “We deserve to treat our veterans better than this, and unfortunately the system failed Gerald. We must do better.”
Keenan, 86, had to travel a significant distance for an audiology exam as part of his application for VA benefits. Keenan’s spouse made numerous attempts to move the appointment closer to due to his health.
On Nov. 18, 2019 Mrs. Keenan was contacted with locations in Cherry Hill and Egg Harbor, which were all closer, but did not meet the seven-day contractual limit to schedule the exam.
On Nov. 20, 2019, Keenan received a notice stating his initial appointment was rescheduled; the date and time of the appointment stayed the same time and the location was in Philadelphia, a trip that would include a significant travel time.
The appointment was again rescheduled for Dec. 10, 2019 in Cherry Hill, which would also include significant travel time to attend the meeting.
When Keenan arrived in Cherry Hill for his appointment, he fell in the parking lot and fractured two ribs. He was placed in the Intensive Care Unit at Cooper Medical Center and succumbed to his injuries two weeks later.