Tags: VA Scandal | va | clinic | manager | mocks | combat | veterans

VA Clinic Manager Mocked Combat Vet Suicides in Holiday Email

By    |   Monday, 09 March 2015 07:46 PM

An Indiana VA clinic manager reportedly sent a disturbing holiday email to staff mocking the issue of combat veterans' suicides.

The Dec. 18, 2014, email sent by social worker Robin Paul, who manages a VA hospital clinic in Indianapolis, contains one photograph of a toy Christmas elf posing as a patient pleading for Xanax, while another depicts the toy elf hanging himself with an electrical cord.

The email was reported Monday by the Indianapolis Star.

"I would like to sincerely apologize for the email message and I take full responsibility for this poor judgment," Paul said in a statement to the newspaper.

"I have put my heart and soul into my work with Veterans for many years. I hold all Veterans and military personnel in the highest regard and am deeply remorseful for any hurt this may have caused."

Julie Webb, a spokeswoman for Roudebush Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Indianapolis, said administrators were made aware of the email "a couple of months ago."

"The email is totally inappropriate and does not convey our commitment to veterans," she told the newspaper. "We apologize to our veterans and take suicide and mental health treatment seriously, striving to provide the highest quality."

Webb told the newspaper the issue was "administratively addressed," but declined to elaborate.

The Star said the manager has remained at the clinic, earning $79,916 a year.

According to the Star, one photo in the email depicts the Christmas toy elf peering between the legs of a female doll. "Trying his skills as a primary care provider (doing a pap)," the email says.

Another shows the elf next to a sticky note with the words, "Out of XANAX — please help!" A caption says, "Self-medicating for mental health issues when a CNS would not give him his requested script."

A third photograph shows the elf hanging from a strand of Christmas lights. "Caught in the act of suicidal behavior (trying to hang himself from an electrical cord)," the email says.

The VA says an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide in the United States every day, the newspaper reports.

"It is a slap in the face to our recent and past veterans suffering from mental health issues every single day," Ken Hylton, commander of the Indiana Department of the American Legion, told the newspaper.

"These men and women went to war and do not deserve this type of ridicule. This is a disgusting display of mockery. This is supposedly someone who is caring for our veterans, and we in the Indiana American Legion are disgusted."

He's demanded an investigation and the "immediate dismissal of this government employee and all of those who received this correspondence and said nothing," the Star reports.

Gregg Keesling, whose 25-year-old son, Chancellor, shot himself in Baghdad in 2009, told the newspaper the email is "wrong."

"It’s very inappropriate, but I can understand it — making light of something awful because it’s so awful," he told the newspaper. "I think it’s a way of coping with things. … "They are trying to be funny. It’s not... Somebody should get in trouble. Maybe not fired, but taken out to the woodshed, as they say."

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An Indiana VA clinic manager reportedly sent a disturbing holiday email to staff mocking the issue of combat veterans' suicides.
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2015-46-09
Monday, 09 March 2015 07:46 PM
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