Man takes own life at Murfreesboro VA hospital

John Toombs (Courtesy: Facebook)
John Toombs (Courtesy: Facebook)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A veterans hospital in Murfreesboro announced Monday that a U.S. Army veteran took his own life on hospital property last week.

The VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (TVHS) said 32-year-old John Toombs was found by personnel on Nov. 23 at their Alvin C. York campus.

“This is a heart wrenching tragedy for everyone involved,” the hospital said, adding. “Management and staff of TVHS offer our sincere condolences, and our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Toombs’ family and friends.”

But Toombs family wants answers.

John Toombs (Courtesy: Facebook)
John Toombs (Courtesy: Facebook)

John’s father, David Toombs, says he got the phone call about his son’s death the day before Thanksgiving.

“You can’t expect these guys and ladies to go into the military, go overseas, do what they do and come back and be perfectly fine,” he said.

He told News 2 that his was in the Army National Guard for six years. He spent a year in Afghanistan.

In 2014 when John got out of the Army, his father says he started to change.

“At first everything was alright,” David Toombs said. “But slowly over a bit of time it seemed like he was slipping into a different attitude.”

In September, John entered a 90-day program at the VA hospital where he was being treated for PTSD and addiction.

David Toombs said his son was happier than ever and had been sober 70 days when he was abruptly kicked out of the program.

David Toombs, John Toombs' father (Photo: WKRN)
David Toombs, John Toombs’ father (Photo: WKRN)

John Toombs posted a video to his Facebook page about the incident.

“Earlier today I was discharged for trivial reasons,” John says in the video. “I came for help and they threw me out like a stray dog in the rain.”

Hours later, John was found hanged at a construction site on the VA Hospital campus.

John doesn’t say what the reasons were but his dad says John had confronted a doctor.

“There’s got to be some kind of reform and this is the time to start,” David Toombs said. “That’s why he made the video – he wanted to say that.”

Veterans, servicemembers and their loved ones in crisis can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. You can also chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net 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.