Jason Simcackoski was a husband and a father. To Marvin and Linda Simcackoski, he was their beloved son.
"He always was a leader," Linda said. "He was just always motivated, always giving 150 percent at everything he did."
Marvin and Linda say after Jason spent more than four years in the Marines, he developed an addiction to pain killers, and was admitted into the Tomah VA for treatment in 2009. But Marvin says the process of weaning him off resulted in a much different outcome than he had hoped.
"They took him off of one thing, and they added 10 other things," Marvin said. "The first time he came home, I think he was on 10 or 12 medications."
It's those medications they say changed Jason into a different person. The motivated son they knew became anything but-often not wanting to leave his house, and gaining nearly 70 pounds of weight. It affected his relationship with his wife and daughter. Last summer, he sent a text message to his parents, asking for help. The message stated he couldn't sleep, and was suffering from anxiety. A few weeks later, on August 30th, he died. He was 35.
"The toxicology report basically said that he died from a mixed toxicity of medications that were all prescribed to him by the VA in Tomah," Marvin explained.
Among those were anti-psychotics, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, and-despite his previous addiction-a pain killer. Both Marvin and Linda say they hope by sharing their story, other families will not have to go through their situation.
"I'd like to try and save somebody's life," Marvin said. "We couldn't save our son's life."
"We just want to bring awareness and hope they stop this from happening to some other veteran," Linda said. "They deserve so much better."
The Tomah VA issued a statement to NewsChannel 7, stating "We are taking these allegations very seriously. We will investigate each accusation to the fullest extent to swiftly take appropriate action and share these findings with the public. The number one mission of the Tomah VA Medical Center is providing veterans with quality care that they have earned through their service."