COLUMBIA (WACH) -- At least six veterans who were patients at Williams Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Medical Center died because of dealys in their treatment according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
A CNN investigation into Dorn says the VA is aware of the problems and has not been able to prevent veterans dying due to delays in care.
According to documents obtained by CNN veterans waiting months for simple procedures -- such as a colonoscopy or endoscopy -- have died because their cancers were not caught in time.
CNN also reports that while the VA has confirmed 6 deaths due to delays at Dorn, the number could be more than 20.
One Columbia woman knows all too well what lack of care at Dorn can do to a veteran.
Anna Bigham's brother, Mills Bigham, served in the Marine Corps and did two tours in Iraq before coming home.
But he didn't come home quite the same way he left.
"He was struggling really badly with post traumatic stress and between January '09 until October of '09 his symptoms significantly got worse. He tried to get help over and over. Went to the hospital, Dorn VA by ambulance four or five times. He took himself there, I took him, my family took him, and he would get aggravated at the waiting time. He told them he was suicidal the times he went by ambulance and they didn't hold him, didn't have 24/7 psychiatric care. And it was often one or two o'clock the next day until he got seen by a doctor and they let him go." says Anna Bigham, Mills' sister.
And it all became too much for Mills to handle.
"On October 19th of 2009, he took his own life with a gunshot wound to his forehead. And he had called the VA and said he was angry and anxious and having a difficult time the day before." says Anna.