In the span of one week, three veterans took their own lives outside of Veterans Affairs hospitals in Texas and Georgia.
While around twenty veterans kill themselves every day, the phenomena of doing so on VA property has seen an uptick since an incident earlier this year, when a veteran -dressed in his uniform- did so in the parking lot of a VA hospital, frustrated with the lack of care rendered.
In the most recent cases, two Georgia veterans and one from Texas executed permanent solutions to temporary problems within the span of seven days.
In Georgia, 29-year-old Gary Pressley was discovered inside of his car in the parking lot of the Dublin-based Carl Vinson VA Medical Center on April 5. The following day, 68-year-old Olen Hancock killed himself outside the Atlanta VA Medical Center.
An unidentified veteran in Austin, Texas, shot himself inside of a waiting room, with hundreds of people present to bear witness to the incident.
The suicide resulted in a total evacuation of the building.
“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,” said Ken Walker, who was at the facility during the event.
According to the Daily Mail, the two Georgia veterans had visible signs of distress that were noticed by family members and bystanders, respectively. In fact, Pressley had pre-planned to kill himself at the VA in order to send a message to the administration.
“He told his girlfriend he was going to do it in the parking lot, so they could find his body, so somebody can pay attention to what’s happening, so other vets do not have to go through this,” said Pressley’s mother, Machelle Wilson.
It is unknown if the identity of the third veteran will be released to the public.
Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, spoke up over the incidents in his home state.
“While we have taken a number of steps to address and prevent veteran suicide, these tragic deaths clearly indicate that we must do better,” he said in a statement.
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