Sergeant John Toombs recorded a video last Tuesday after being forced out of the Alvin C. York Medical Center in Murfreesboro, TN for what he calls “trivial reasons.” Toombs committed suicide on VA property just hours after recording the heart-wrenching video. The video has garnered nationwide attention and has gone viral. His last recorded moments can be seen below:
Toombs is a U.S. Army veteran that proudly served his country in Afghanistan. Toombs’ father, David Toombs, states that his son fell on hard times in recent years due to his struggles with PTSD and depression. David told reporters that his son has been in treatment since October, 2016 and was kicked out just two days before Thanksgiving. He pleaded for his son to come home that night.
The younger Toombs refused his father’s offer, explaining that he would wait until morning and try to plead his case. He hanged himself to death later that evening in an abandoned building on Alvin C. York Medical Center property.
David Toombs states that, aside from being visited by a VA Chaplin after his son’s death, he has not been contacted by the VA at all. The VA has not provided David with any information about his son’s death and are holding the body for the investigation.
The VA has confirmed that the incident occurred and is launching an investigation. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ Health System Director, Jennifer Vedral-Baron, released the following statement Monday afternoon:
A tragic incident occurred at the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (TVHS) Alvin C. York campus in Murfreesboro, TN. At approximately 6:40 a.m., Wednesday, November 23, 2016, personnel arriving for work discovered Mr. John Toombs, an Army Veteran, deceased in an apparent suicide.
This is a heart wrenching tragedy for everyone involved. Out of respect for the Veteran and his family, we are unable to speak further about the specifics of his care and benefits in accordance with his privacy rights under HIPAA. Management and staff of TVHS offer our sincere condolences, and our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Toombs’ family and friends.
Suicide is a tragic outcome and even one suicide is one too many. VA is committed to ensuring the safety of our Veterans, especially when they are in crisis. Veterans, Servicemembers, and their loved ones in crisis can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, send a text message to 838255, or chat online atto receive free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care.
David Toombs hopes that his son’s tragic death will raise awareness for other veterans that are struggling with PTSD and the VA healthcare system. The Rutherfordrd county sheriff’s department is launching an investigation of their own.