Sailor's widow: VA canceled appointments

Norma Hammette holds a picture of her husband, Marl.
Norma Hammette holds a picture of her husband, Marl.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The widow of a Navy sailor who died last October spoke Wednesday about her experiences with a Veterans Affairs hospital.

Norma Hammette said she received notification that her ailing husband's doctor's appointments had been canceled without reason nearly a half-dozen times right before he passed.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday he's ordered a full investigation into potentially deadly delays at VA facilities nationwide, including the one in Gainesville, where the Hammettes had appointments.

Norma Hammette said her husband, Marl Hammette, loved his country, would have died for his country and deserved better treatment from the U.S.

"'Sorry for your inconvenience.' That's all they would say," Norma Hammette said. "They'd give me another appointment, then I'd get a letter cancelling that one."

Hammette said her husband, who served in the Navy for more than 20 years, kept losing weight and the family didn't know why. She said she took him to see other specialists after the VA hospital in Gainesville canceled his appointments several times.

She believes in her heart VA doctors could have saved his life and wasted precious time.

"Very sad, and I know I'm not the only one who lost their husband for the same thing from neglect from the VA," Hammette said. "It's very hurtful."

"Our veterans deserve to know the facts, and the families deserve the facts," Obama said.

The President vowed to take swift action if it's proven that employees manipulated data to hide long wait times for appointments at VA hospitals.

"When I hear allegations of misconduct, wait times or cooking the books, I will not stand for it as the chief or as an American," Obama said.

He said he wants to know the full scope of the problem, leaving Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to find out what happened.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott feels differently. He said on Channel 4's "The Morning Show" Wednesday that Shinseki should resign.

"We need new leadership," Scott said. "Now we know there are secret wait lists at our Gainesville facility. Our VA facilities need transparency and accountability. It starts at the top."

About the Author: