Carl Vinson VA Focus of $8.25M Lawsuit Over Suicide

 In Military, Veterans

An $8.25M lawsuit has been filed against the Carl Vinson VA in Georgia, alleging they didn’t do enough to prevent the suicide of  Navy veteran Gary Pressley, 29, last April. We reported the incident along with another one that occurred in the parking lot of a VA facility in Georgia. Now, Pressley’s family says the staff at the facility failed to respond to his signs of distress. A total of three suicides occurred in VA parking lots within five days of each other last April.

According to the lawsuit, Pressley’s sister called the Carl Vinson VA and notified them that Gary was in possession of a weapon and was going to harm himself. The lawsuit states:

“(She) told the operator exactly where he was located based on his GPS signal. No one from the VA attempted to locate or assist Gary, who was on the brink of death. Instead, more than three hours later, Gary was found in the VA parking lot sitting in his car.”

According to Military Times,

But the new lawsuit charges that VA was completely unprepared to handle Pressley’s case. In addition to a lack of response to reports of his suicidal behavior, attorneys allege that Pressley’s medical care was mishandled for months prior to his death.

Pressley, who was medically discharged from the Navy after a motorcycle accident, was taking a series of opiate medications for chronic pain and under the care of a private-sector doctor paid for by VA funds. When that doctor stopped seeing VA patients over payment disputes with the department, Pressley’s prescriptions were also disrupted.

After navigating a series of appointments and tests over six weeks, while waiting for physicians at the Georgia VA medical center to fill those prescriptions, Pressley returned to his car and took his own life. Security personnel said a note beside him read “this is what happens by punishing already suffering people.”

Questions

What was the staff doing that they didn’t bother to check on Gary Pressley even after being notified by his family of a problem? Or didn’t they care? Is this simply the fault of  “ineffective pain management?”

The VA, and some private doctors have a nasty habit of prescribing drugs to fight symptoms. According to many veterans I’ve spoken to, they’ll often prescribe anxiety pills, sleep pills, pain pills all at once…which verges on irresponsible medicine. It happens regularly. In Pressley’s case Military Times stated he was taking a “series” of opiates…which was a poor treatment in the first place.

Big Pharma must be proud.

Featured photo: Carl Vinson VA in Dublin, Georgia – VA photo

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charles pitman