Veteran who killed self at Austin clinic was referred from local VA

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AUSTIN, Texas (KWTX) A veteran who shot himself to death in the waiting room of an Austin VA clinic was originally assigned to a local VA hospital, but his case was transferred, an official said Thursday.

(CNN VAN photo)

The suicide Tuesday shut down Austin’s Veterans Affairs Clinic.

Hundreds of people were in the waiting room when the unidentified veteran shot himself to death shortly after noon Tuesday.

McLennan County Veteran’s Service Officer Steve Hernandez said the veteran was a patient who had been enrolled in the Phoenix program at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center in Temple and was discharged, but somehow his case was transferred to the Austin facility.

“When he found out he couldn’t get the help he needed there, he chose to take his own life,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the underlying problem with the VA system currently is “there is no facility in the state or in the country dedicated to serving veterans with mental health issues.

“What’s going on is concerning and the actions undertaken so far speak for themselves,” Hernandez said, but the lack of a VA mental health treatment facility, which the Waco campus used to be, is critically important.

Weapons are prohibited in VA facilities, but the Austin clinic does not have metal detectors and relies instead on random bag searches.