It’s been known that veteran healthcare in America is a joke, but only recently do we know exactly how bad it is. Out of a backlog of 847,000 veterans awaiting healthcare, over 238,000 veterans have already died before getting any treatment, reported the Huffington Post. That’s a massive failure by the federal government.

An internal document from the Department of Veterans Affairs detailing the statistics was made public by Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center, who is also a past whistleblower on the VA. For years, the VA covered up the number of veterans who died waiting for care in order to give the impression of efficiency. This new report illustrates a more accurate and disturbing picture.

Because the system is so old and inefficient, many veterans who don’t pass away waiting for care usually go elsewhere for treatment. VA spokesperson Walinda West said that 81 percent of veterans coming to the VA have some type of outside coverage. “Consequently, some [applications] in pending status may have decided to use other options instead of completing their eligibility application,” said West.

That’s because the VA is so terrible at its job that veterans would rather go elsewhere and pay a little more than potentially wait for death before getting healthcare. Davis added that sometimes the VA dismisses a veteran’s application, regardless of eligibility. “VA wants you to believe, by virtue of people being able to get health care elsewhere, it’s not a big deal,” said Davis. “But VA is turning away tens of thousands of veterans eligible for health care.”

The federal government shouldn’t be turning away veterans who are eligible for care. These people gave the government several years of their lives, sometimes at the cost of their health and able-bodiedness. The government needs to get it right and take care of veterans.