Father Questions VA Treatment Of Veteran Son Who Died By Suicide

Posted at 4:12 PM, Nov 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-28 19:37:33-05

A man was found dead on VA property after he he posted a video claiming that the medical center forced him out of treatment.

Sergeant John Toombs recorded a video last Tuesday after he said he was kicked out of the Alvin C. York VA Medical Center in Murfreesboro for what he called trivial reasons.

That video has gone viral nationwide.

His final words raised more questions about the treatment of veterans in need.

Sgt. Toombs proudly served in Afghanistan with the Army.

In recent years he hit hard times and sought help at the VA in Murfreesboro.

"He was in treatment for PTSD. I think depression," said his father David Toombs.

John entered treatment in October. His father thought he was getting better. Then he got a call from him just two days before Thanksgiving.

"I said John what happened and he was stunned and shocked, and he said 'they kicked me out'," said David Toombs.

David told his son leave to come home that  you can't stay there, but John said he wanted to spend the night ... and ask for another chance in the morning.

He never did. His father says John took his own life. He hanged himself in a vacant building on the VA property.

"Earlier today I was discharged for trivial reasons. They knew the extent of my problems. When I asked for help, they opened up a Pandora's box inside of me and kicked me out the door," Toombs said in the video.

"I've not been contacted by the VA whatsoever," said his father.

A VA chaplain did visit to tell the father of his son's death, but nothing more.

David Toombs said he still doesn't know why the VA seemingly gave up on his son who served his country and then kicked him out.

But it's hard for him to imagine anything that would make sense.

"Everything about it is wrong," said David Toombs.

The VA confirmed an incident did happen and an internal investigation is underway.

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 at to 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.

The family is still waiting for answers, and they still didn't have the body for burial.

David Toombs hoped his son's tragic story raises awareness in hopes of helping other veterans.

The Rutherford county sheriff's department is also investigating what happened.