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Friends: Soldier who took his life outside VA is tragic example of vets desperate for help

Friends say soldier John Toombs took his own life outside a Murfreesboro VA before Thanksgiving. (WZTV, Courtesy friends of John)

*Warning: Content may be disturbing for some viewers.*

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WZTV) -- Friends say a soldier who took his life before Thanksgiving is a tragic example of veterans desperate for help.

Authorities found the soldier's body on the Alvin York campus in Murfreesboro where he'd been recently discharged from a drug treatment program.

Veterans helping veterans as the Military Vets Motorcycle Club is camping for 48 hours.


"We're raising money food clothing any type of donation to help out the homeless vets and veterans and their families," Mark Jolly, with the club said. "Got a tent, sleeping bag on the ground, we sleep then got cars we just want to raise awareness and all the people in Rutherford County that we're helping our veterans."

For John Toombs, help is too late, as he says in a YouTube video.

"I'm John Tombs. I'm sitting here outside Alvin C. York VA where earlier today i was discharged for a trivial reason," Toombs said in the video. "They knew the extent of my problems, PTSD, depression, all that, even more."

Friends shared this video. They say Toombs made it shortly before taking his life outside the VA medical center in Murfreesboro the day before Thanksgiving.

"I came for help and they just threw me out like a stray dog in the rain," Toombs says in the video.

Joshua Whitford and Toombs served together. You can see Whitford holding Toombs on his shoulders in a group photo.

He says his friend felt hopeless after a run in with a doctor got him discharged from a drug treatment program.

"To the VA, this is just unacceptable. You've got a veteran asking for help and you let him down yet another one,” Whitford said. “Now he's just another statistic."

Struggling with issues like PTSD, brain injury and substance abuse, a 2012 VA study found, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide daily.

"My only three options now or go back to jail, be homeless or check myself into the psych ward they knew the extent of my problems with PTSD depression,” Toombs says in the video.

It’s too late for John.

“He just had a soul, a beautiful soul. He was always there to make somebody else smile," Whitford said.

Fellow veterans hope they can reach others in time.

"There are more options out there and that's what other soldiers need to realize it's because one door closes, I promise you there's another one that opens,” Whitford said. “But he was very hurt very hurt."

Fox 17 reached out the Veterans Administration for a comment, but many officers are closed for the holiday and we're still awaiting a response.

A gofundme account is set up for Sgt. Toombs.

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