The family of an Army veteran is accusing a Veterans Affairs hospital of negligence after they released the man, who was later found dead in a freezing-cold parking lot on New Year’s Eve.
Vance Perry, 57, moved from Atlanta to Madison, Wisconsin last month and was recently picked up by a Veterans Affairs van for a routine appointment for paranoid schizophrenia. He was then admitted for mental instability, but was released last Friday wearing just a light jacket.
“They didn’t make sure that he got in a car,” his daughter Erika said. “He walked away.”
A hospital spokesperson confirmed that Perry arrived via the disabled American Veterans van program, but said the hospital arranged for him to take a taxi home, adding that it’s “unclear why the veteran did not utilize that transportation and return home per the discharge plan.”
His daughter, however, thinks the hospital should have done more to make sure he got in a taxi.
“But there is video footage showing my dad wandering off with no escort,” she said. “It’s negligence.”
Detectives are currently investigating Perry’s death, and a medical examiner has indicated that he likely died of hypothermia. His daughter and her four other siblings are considering taking legal action against the hospital to bring justice to their father. Meanwhile, Paul Rickert of Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital addressed the tragedy in a statement:
We are terribly saddened to learn of the loss of this veteran. Prior to his death, he voluntarily checked out of our facility, which had no grounds to prevent him forcibly from doing so.
His family is still determining when and where to hold his funeral.
“He was the most giving person that I ever met. It’s just sad he died a lonely death,” his daughter said. “Regardless of his mental illness — and especially because of his mental illness — he should have been taken better care of.”