GOP senator presses VA after veteran reportedly bitten by ants at nursing home

GOP senator presses VA after veteran reportedly bitten by ants at nursing home
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonEleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid Juan Williams: Republicans flee Trump Democrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump MORE (R-Ga.) Thursday pressed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for answers after a veteran was reportedly bitten by ants more than 100 times at one of the agency’s facilities.

“I am shocked, horrified and downright maddened by the news that a veteran under the care of the VA was treated so poorly and without any regard for his wellbeing,” Isakson, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said in a statement. “This patient, at the end of his life, was clearly not being monitored closely enough, and I am so sad for his family who had to discover his insect-infested conditions before anything was reportedly done.

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“I have spoken with Deputy Secretary Byrne to demand answers and express my dissatisfaction across all levels of the VA for allowing this to occur and for failing to inform Congress about this incident until just hours before news broke.”

The statement came a day after local reports emerged that Joel Marrable, a Vietnam War veteran who was being treated for cancer at Eagles Nest Community Living Center in Decatur, Ga., was found covered in ants twice and had more than 100 bites on his body.

Laquna Ross, Marrable’s daughter, said she only learned of the insect-infested conditions shortly before her father’s death last week.

“He served his country in the Air Force, and I think that he deserved better,” she told local media, saying that Marrable’s hands were swollen with bites when she visited him last week. 

Ross said the ants were also plastered all over the room and that her father was moved to a new room after she complained, where he later died of cancer.

Isakson said he’s “spoken to the veteran’s daughter and offered my deepest condolences and offered to help in any way I can to ensure that her family is taken care of and that those who allowed these conditions to persist be held accountable to the fullest extent.” 

The VA told local media that actions have been taken to address the ant infestation and that all bedrooms at the nursing home were stripped, cleaned and inspected. The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill regarding Isakson’s statement.