A desperate cry for help

On November 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving, Sgt John Toombs a US Army veteran of Afghanistan (and a close friend of my oldest son) took his own life on the campus of the Alvin C. York VA hospital…This isn’t easy for me to say …I debated whether to share…But I think it’s important. This isn’t just a statistic.


Talking to my son, John had been living in the dorm for about a month. He went there seeking help for PTSD, depression and drug addiction. Then for reasons still not released he was asked to clean out his room and leave. They aren’t saying why, as the internal investigation is going on. There were notes left too that may give more details as to why. But those are being held as well. I guess there was premonition in the words that were in his Facebook bio and fixed at the top of his wall. “All it takes is one..bad..day. Then what you fear the most will meet you half way”

It’s just a damn shame! John knew he needed help, he called his family to say he was going to try to apologize and get back in…He had nowhere else to go. I wished he realized that he did. Before this altercation or whatever had happened, sources say John was doing well in treatment. He had even started to help teach a class. Sad as it is, Maybe this was his way of raising awareness for fucked up vets like him. It breaks my heart to know it didn’t have to end like this. He was crying out for help and asked to leave the one place that should have helped him.

Sometime Wednesday John sat in his car and filmed this last statement, wrote some notes to the ones he loved…the next time he was seen was when campus security found him hanging in an empty construction area at the VA. It’s hard for me to hear him say they have opened up a Pandoras Box inside of him and then kicked him out.

I knew John through my son as a little manic depressive. Somedays at the bar I stop in occasionally he would be singing duets with Deven on Kareoke night and having a blast. Some nights I would see him choosing to sit in the corner and drink alone. Those nights I could barely get a hello out of him as whatever was eating at him seemed to have him consumed.  In the words of my son “John was fucked up and depressed, but when he was good, man he was good. A great friend and a great dude”


I do hope in this tragic ending of the life of a young man, a young veteran. Some things change in how we take care of the men and women who serve to protect us. That we notice in the friends around us. And that if you think you have nothing left to offer and there is no one that cares.. I pray you realize there are people who do !

R.I.P. John




5 thoughts on “A desperate cry for help

  1. To read these words breaks my heart and I believe so many are suffering in silence in so many different ways that we don’t even know, that there is a need to raise awareness. But we also need to listen and take the time to help. It’s always easier to dismiss somebody vs. taking on turning a difficult situation around. I’m truly sorry to hear that we failed this young man.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing, HA&F. Making people aware of this reality in our time is important. This is a voice can still be heard. This is something close to me as well – so many stories, people, and challenges. Let no one be forgotten in the wake of pain, death, or both.

    Liked by 1 person

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