FERRIER FILES: Friends, laws memorialize Murfreesboro soldier who took his life outside VA
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. —
There is a widespread feeling that the U.S. prepares the best soldiers for the greatest military force in the world.
As well-prepared as they are for battle, many veterans feel as if the U.S. failed them when they come home.
Sgt. John Toombs from Murfreesboro was a tail gunner in Afghanistan. Toombs came back to Tennessee with bad PTSD and other issues.
It all came to a head when he was kicked out of a program at the VA in Murfreesboro. Shortly after, he recorded a goodbye message and killed himself in a VA building.
"It really hurt me," Allen Chapman said. "I cried when I saw the video. It still hurts to this day that he is gone. To go the extreme point of taking your own life, something serious went wrong."
Chapman served with Toombs and called him friend. Chapman felt he had to do something or his friend’s death would be in vain.
He started the Sgt. John Toombs Memorial Scholarship to be given to a high school student who is a child or sibling of a veteran.
This year, the scholarship went to Lawrenceburg graduate Olivia White.
Veterans groups made lawmakers watch Toomb's goodbye video, which helped pass the VA Accountability and Whistle Blowers Act. The act is seen nationally as a big way to hold the VA accountable.
Chapman doesn’t have the answers, but said he knows something has to be done.
“Its like when your done with your deployment or time, they are done with you,” Chapman said. "This country is totally patriotic. I think they would gladly take the best care of veterans and make sure no one is left behind."
Congressman Scott DesJarlais has a bill to rename the building where Toombs ended his life to the John Toombs Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Facility.
Anyone who wants to give to the Sgt. John Toombs Memorial Scholarship can send a check to:
Sgt. John Toombs Memorial Scholarship
PO Box 961
Lawrenceburg, TN, 38464