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Old 04-12-2019, 06:38 AM
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Exclamation Hundreds witness veteran shoot and kill himself in VA waiting room

Hundreds witness veteran shoot and kill himself in VA waiting room
By: J.D. Simkins 4-11-19

Photo link of VA outpatient center - Austin, TX :
A veteran reportedly shot himself April 9 in the waiting room of the VA's Austin Outpatient Clinic in front of hundreds of witnesses. (Veterans Affairs)

A horrific scene unfolded Tuesday in the waiting room of an Austin, Texas, Veterans Affairs clinic when a veteran reportedly shot himself to death in front of hundreds of witnesses.

Despite the commotion, many in the building remained unaware of what had occurred for some time after the shooting, KWTX News 10 reported.

One group therapy class even continued on for almost an hour after the shot was fired.

“All of a sudden, over the intercom, they have this statement about everyone must clear the building including staff, so it was a little surprising,” veteran Ken Walker told News 10.

Confusion ensued as veterans were told to leave the premises, and the hospital was subsequently shut down for an investigation by detectives.

Reddit user Diane_Kirkendall shared a photo reportedly taken in the waiting room in the wake of the suicide, with the caption, “Veteran takes his life in front of large American flag. The news won’t post this, they would rather sweep it under the rug and pretend Vet suicide doesn’t happen. There are hundreds of us vets who will never forget what happened yesterday at noon. RIP young brother.”

Although the rate of veteran suicides occurring on VA campuses has surged, metal detectors have yet to be installed in many of them.

Most clinics have instead continued to rely on randomized bag searches.

Between October 2017 and November 2018, 19 veterans died by suicide on the grounds of VA medical facilities in what some believe to be acts of protesting inadequate treatment by the country they served.

In December, Marine Col. Jim Turner, 55, put his service uniform on, drove to the Bay Pines Department of Veterans Affairs, and shot himself outside the medical center, leaving a note next to his body.

“I bet if you look at the 22 suicides a day you will see VA screwed up in 90 percent,” it read.

Less than a week ago, two veterans from Georgia killed themselves in separate incidents outside VA hospitals.

“For military veterans, access to weapons and familiarity with weapons makes it too easy,” Jack Swope, a licensed professional counselor with Austin’s Samaritan Center, told NBC Austin.

Availability of viable medical options remains a titanic hindrance vets face as well, Swope added.

“There’s a scheduling problem. Part of it is a matter of accessibility, getting there, and frankly part of it is a matter of finances and costs.”

The VA, meanwhile, recently boasted seeing “positive outcomes” of its suicide prevention efforts, despite the fact that veteran suicide rates have climbed.

“Suicide prevention is VA’s highest clinical priority,” the VA said in a statement following the incidents in Georgia.

Despite these proclamations, the VA came under fire following a December Government Accountability Office report that revealed only $57,000 of the VA’s $6.2 million suicide prevention media budget — or, less than 1 percent — had actually been used.

Recent government reports show that 530 veterans in Texas died by suicide in 2016 alone. That number equates to a suicidal likelihood that is double that of the general population.

Representatives from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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