Widow of U.S. Soldier: VA Turned Away Husband Before His Suicide
Just after news broke that President Obama summoned VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to the White House, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. brought us the heartbreaking story of Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Hartbarger. His widow, Barbra Hartbarger, explained that her husband tragically took his own life in Aug. 2012 after a long bout with depression.
Hartbarger had been treated from 2004 until his death by VA doctors, but Barbra said he kept getting referred to new psychiatrists and called the VA a "pill dispensary."
"No one doctor ever actually followed him completely. It would not be unusual to see two or three different psychiatrists each year. So every time he went in he would need to retell his story of what he was experiencing with that new doctor. And they would change medications randomly, so there was no continuity in his care," she recalled.
Hartbarger, who emailed Johnson yesterday to share her story, said that on the night before her husband's suicide, the couple had gone to the VA emergency room because her husband was having a lot of anxiety. Doctors gave him Ativan after he said that he was having suicidal thoughts, she explained.
They then told him to come back in the morning to the walk-in patient care center. Hartbarger said they returned at 8:00 the next morning and her husband saw a doctor after waiting three hours. He was given a card for a suicide hotline and told to call if he had a "plan" and intended to act on his suicidal thoughts.
Hartbarger said the doctor was supposed to get him an appointment with a psychiatrist in the afternoon. Later that evening, Hartbarger hung himself.
Johnson said that he reached out to the central Texas VA, but did not receive a response.
Watch the full interview above.