Veteran Jumps to His Death at V.A. Hospital
A former employee and patient killed himself at a facility with a long history of inadequate care.
PHILADELPHIA — A military veteran seeking psychiatric treatment walked out of a waiting room at the Veteran Affairs medical center in Philadelphia and jumped to his death from its parking garage Thursday morning.
Gary Dorman of Mount Vernon, Pennsylvania, took his own life after he sought treatment at the hospital, an employee at the hospital told The Daily Beast. Dorman, 56, was a former patient and former employee at the hospital, the source said.
On Thursday morning, Doorman entered a “restricted area,” the employee said, adding that security removed him. Afterward, Dorman climbed the stairs to the third level of the parking garage and leapt to his death.
Spokesperson Fern Billet told The Daily Beast in a statement Friday that “we’re saddened to learn of the loss of a Veteran on our campus yesterday. ... On behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs, we extend our deepest condolences to the veteran’s family, friends and neighbors. They are in our thoughts and in our prayers. VA is committed to caring for all of our Veterans, their families and communities.”
According to a witness, Dorman fell from the parking deck roof and struck a utility building with such force that it knocked his shoes from his feet before his body hit the ground.
The body was quickly taken from the scene, said the witness, which was swarming with VA police, other uniformed federal agents, as well as a “bunch of guys in suits.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in April how a VA probe found that “of all the VA regional offices, ‘Philadelphia is clearly the most problematic’” and that within it “there is such fear of reprisal, and fear from the employees who I believe are trying to do a good job,” according to Assistant Inspector General Linda Halliday.
During hearings the first week of November for a joint congressional investigation into VA services and contracting practices, Halliday as well as the head of the Wilmington Veterans Office repeatedly invoked their Fifth Amendment right regarding questions about an “alleged scheme to get herself assigned to the job with less responsibility, the same pay, and a cost to the government of nearly $300,000 in relocation expenses.”
In July, a Philadelphia VA psychiatrist told a veteran on Facebook, “off yourself, please.”
From 1994 to 2004, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the agency paid over $200 million in wrongful-death claims to nearly 1,000 grieving families, including 36 in Pennsylvania, among them “decorated Iraq war veterans who killed themselves after being turned away from mental health treatment.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with information on the decdent.