Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Day after discharge, veteran's body found in VA parking lot


Marine veteran loved to fix things — but the VA offered no plan for him to help himself

He sought help from the VA while struggling with suicidal thoughts – feelings of helplessness, frustration and anxiety. After spending four days at an inpatient mental health unit, he left the hospital, went to his car and shot himself. Police found his body the following day, his phone full of voicemails and texts from his father, Greg Miller, with one message sent over and over again: “I love you. We love you. Come home.”

Watchdog finds deficiencies in care for vet who committed suicide in Minneapolis VA parking lot
Published: September 25, 2018
The next day, police found the veteran dead in the parking lot of the Minneapolis VA hospital, with a gunshot wound to the head. The local medical examiner determined the death a suicide.

WASHINGTON — A government watchdog determined a Department of Veterans Affairs mental health unit in Minneapolis didn’t follow VA policies before discharging an Iraq War veteran who committed suicide in the facility’s parking lot less than 24 hours later.

The Office of Inspector General reported Tuesday that VA staff didn’t collaborate on a discharge plan for the veteran, didn’t ensure the veteran had a follow-up appointment about newly prescribed antidepressants, and didn’t adequately document whether they had access to firearms. 

Though the VA failed in several areas, inspectors said they couldn’t determine whether the mistakes directly led to the veteran’s suicide.
The Minneapolis VA made similar errors in 2011, when a Vietnam War veteran committed suicide while under the facility’s care. A VA Inspector General report in 2012 found the hospital was “deficient” in how it handled the situation. Four of the recommendations the IG made after that suicide apply now, the IG wrote in its report.
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