The recent suicide of a 53-year-old veteran in the parking lot of the Phoenix VA was the ultimate symbolic act against a facility embroiled in scandals over how it has handled both veterans’ claims and suicidal veterans, a whistle-blower said.
A witness said that Thomas Murphy drove onto the facility’s grounds Sunday night and shot himself. A gun was found at the scene, as was a goodbye note.
“The symbolism behind a veteran driving the extra mile to complete the act of suicide on VA property is huge,” said Brandon Coleman, a Marine veteran and Phoenix VA addiction therapist.
“It’s an ultimate ‘F U’ to the VA because by completing on property there is no hiding it. The VA has to … acknowledge what has happened,” added Coleman, who filed for whistle-blower protection earlier this year when he alleged that the facility fails suicidal veterans.
He told Phoenix’s ABC affiliate earlier this year that six veterans he has worked with have committed suicide over the past three years. Twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day in the U.S., according to the latest statistics.
Coleman said that though he did not know Murphy, “normally when this occurs it has something to do with the veterans claim or appeal not being worked correctly or a lack of much needed medical care.”
“I think Mr. Murphy did this on VA property for a reason and would want us to speak or write about an even bigger problem.”
Coleman pointed The Daily Caller to a recent email sent by the Phoenix facility’s chief of social work attempting to fill staffing gaps for several emergency room shifts.
“The Phoenix VA still has not fulfilled their promise … that they would have a social worker on duty in the ER 24/7,” Coleman said, referencing the email, sent by Michael Leon.
“They are currently unable to fill all the needed shifts,” Coleman said, calling it “both scary and uncalled for.”
“On days like this without properly trained staff a vet may slip through the cracks and leave without getting the care they need. Ultimately these vets may end up like Mr. Murphy.”