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Veteran jumps out of third-floor window at Tomah VA hospital

By   /   December 2, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 35 of 47 in the series Tomah VA Scandal

MADISON, Wis. – After reports of veterans being exposed to HIV and other infectious diseases at the scandal-plagued Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center, now comes word that a veteran jumped out of a third-floor window this week at the troubled Veterans Assistance Foundation on the hospital campus.

Don Roach, the foundation’s executive director, said the incident occurred Wednesday. He said a veteran who participates in the Veterans Assistance program leaped out the window of the medical center’s Building 407.

“We have no comment on the reason for this individual’s actions,” Roach said in a statement. “He was transported to the Tomah Memorial Hospital by ambulance. We are unaware of his medical condition.”

Officials are not releasing the veteran’s name.

Photo by WKOW TV

TRAGEDY AT 407: A veteran staying at the troubled Veteran Assistance Foundation jumped out of a third-story window this week. Sources say the man is in stable condition.

A source who works at the medical center told Wisconsin Watchdog that the man’s condition was not life-threatening and that as of Friday afternoon he was in stable condition.

Victoria Brahm, acting director of the medical center, sent an email notifying employees of the incident.

“Early this morning a veteran from the Veterans Assistance Foundation program jumped out of the third floor window at the VAF day room,” she wrote in an email obtained by Wisconsin Watchdog. “A medical emergency was called and the Veteran was sent via ambulance to Tomah Memorial Hospital where the Veteran is recovering from injuries sustained.”

Brahm sent out a follow-up email Wednesday evening reminding employees to “Be There for our veterans in a professional capacity, which may include simple hello’s, appreciation for their service or a smile as you pass in the hallway.”

She noted the holidays are a time of increased risk of depression and suicide incidents, and urged employees to “please pay attention to your friends, neighbors and colleagues who may benefit from the smile or a simple conversation as well.”

RELATED: Johnson: Hold accountable those who put Tomah veterans at risk of HIV, hepatitis 

The hospital source who spoke to Wisconsin Watchdog on condition of anonymity said administration is trying to blame holiday depression  for the veteran deciding to jump out of the window, but that’s a questionable excuse at a hospital in the national spotlight for its practices of overprescribing painkillers.

“They are trying to say it’s the holidays. That’s a good way to slap something on it,” the source said.

Word of the apparent suicide attempt followed on the heels of reports that 592 veterans may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis C, and other infections after a dentist at the Tomah hospital failed to follow standard infection control procedures for months.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is not releasing the name of the dentist.

Brahm told news outlets this week that the risk of infection is low but officials wanted to alert those who may be affected.

It’s the latest chapter in a tragic story of alleged abuse at a government-run medical facility infamously known as “Candyland” because of the high volume of painkillers prescribed to patients. A35-year-old Marine veteran in August 2014 died of a toxic cocktail of prescribed drugs while at the medical center.

The VAF has had its own problems. The Tomah-based nonprofit has been ordered by the VA to leave space at the hospital where it houses and provides treatment for some 50 homeless veterans.

The VA cited safety concerns in ending the program’s $17,000 monthly lease, including security issues. That followed the death of a 54-year-old woman staying at the VAF’s care center.

Part of 47 in the series Tomah VA Scandal
  1. After damaging silence, Baldwin now calls for probe of troubled VA center
  2. Legal expert says U.S. Sen Tammy Baldwin is in full ‘damage control’
  3. Baldwin aide breaks silence, alleges senator engaged in ‘coverup’
  4. Baldwin’s public relations team kicks into high gear following ethics complaint
  5. Ethics watchdog urges Senate committee to investigate Baldwin
  6. Tammy Baldwin’s political fixer is helping Hillary attack voter ID
  7. Senate committee asking if FBI missed the call in veteran’s death at VA
  8. When lawmakers failed Wisconsin’s veterans
  9. Is political pressure behind Lin Ellinghuysen’s differing accounts on VA memo?
  10. Bernie Sanders failed to act in deadly VA scandal, whistleblower says
  11. Does government union chief’s threat show AFGE’s hand on veterans care?
  12. What would Russ Feingold’s 1992 self say to the 2015 version?
  13. Ad attacking Feingold asserts veterans died because of ‘politicians who looked the other way’
  14. Feingold’s campaign caught up in VA scandal memo war
  15. PolitiFact Wisconsin trusts Russ Feingold to deliver its facts
  16. Sources: Ron Kind received call from Jason Simcakoski not long before Marine’s tragic death
  17. Captain Campaign Finance Reform, Russ Feingold, changes ‘dark money’ tune
  18. Baldwin talks transparency while keeping her secrets in Tomah VA scandal
  19. Ron Kind knew about Tomah VA abuse years before the story broke
  20. Ron Kind now solving Tomah VA scandal one press release at a time
  21. Tammy Baldwin silent on her failures as she blasts Tomah VA medical center
  22. Tomah VA whistleblower says he’s getting pressure from unhappy Dems
  23. Feingold’s facts fail again in face of Tomah scandal
  24. Senate field hearing to shine more light on Tomah VA scandal
  25. Tomah VA supervisor accused of misconduct gets promoted
  26. Senate hearing to look deeper into scandal-plagued Tomah VA hospital
  27. Kind flees questions, Senate committee turns up heat on Tomah VA hospital scandal
  28. Report: Tomah VA hospital story is one of ‘systemic failures’
  29. Tomah VA hospital whistleblower: ‘It will not change’
  30. Ron Kind breaks silence on call from veteran victim at Tomah VA hospital
  31. VA union holds rally to save itself, Tomah whistleblower says
  32. Sound familiar? Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth accused of retaliation at VA
  33. Emails say Tomah VA patient reached out to Feingold, Kind, in 2008 about abuse
  34. Johnson: Hold accountable those who put Tomah veterans at risk of HIV, hepatitis
  35. Veteran jumps out of third-floor window at Tomah VA hospital
  36. Tomah VA employee: ‘We have forgotten who we work for’
  37. Congressional committees want answers on Tomah VA hospital
  38. Senators ask Pence, Trump transition team, to hold troubled VA accountable
  39. Veterans advocate: VA hospitals’ ‘improvement’ doesn’t tell whole story
  40. Tomah VA Medical Center’s ‘Candy Man’ stripped of license
  41. Opinions differ on whether it’s ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ at Tomah VA
  42. Latest data show Tomah VA hospital improving in opioid prescriptions, veteran satisfaction
  43. VA secretary nominee faces little resistance, lots of challenges
  44. Insiders: Tomah VA troubles continue with nurse shortage, neglectful care
  45. VA whistleblower has questions for Congressman Ron Kind
  46. Johnson brings back whistleblower protection bill as Sunshine Week opens
  47. Iraq war veteran burned by ‘very frustrating process’ at VA


M.D. Kittle is bureau chief of Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment Reporter for Watchdog.org. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of print, broadcast and online media. He is the recipient of several awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and others. He is also a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors. Kittle's extensive series on Wisconsin's unconstitutional John Doe investigations was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. His work has been featured in Town Hall, Fox News, NewsMax, and other national publications, and his reporting has been cited by news outlets nationwide. Kittle is a fill-in talk show host on the Jay Weber Show and the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee and Madison.