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Schools locked down over missing veteran

Sheriff's officials say Tim Thompkins has been captured.

LEESBURG — Tim Tompkins, an Iraq war veteran who has been struggling to cope with stresses created on the battlefield, is now headed to a hospital to be evaluated and to receive the care he needs, Leesburg Police Chief Charles Moore said Wednesday.

Tompkins caused school officials in Lee County to lockdown schools Wednesday morning after he wandered away from home following a confrontation in which he reportedly threatened to hurt himself.

Believed to have been armed with a knife, Tompkins was found a friend’s house on River Road just after noon and was placed into protective custody without incident. Moore said Tompkins is a veteran who needs help dealing with the stresses of combat and that he won’t be facing any charges.

“He’s a man who saw a lot of things in Iraq that he’s now having trouble dealing with,” Moore said. “And the worst part about it is that he tried to get help through the VA hospital in Dublin but they wouldn’t take him. ... Now, if you need help, and you try and get help and are turned away, that’s just wrong.”

Moore said that Tompkins suffers from what is believed to be post-traumatic stress and is prone to having flashbacks of Iraq.

When he disappeared Wednesday morning and was believed to be armed, Lee Primary School went into lockdown and, according to the Lee School system, “that caused a domino effect and every school in the system” followed suit as a precautionary measure.

Around 9 a.m. Wednesday, Tompkins posted on his Facebook page “I see dead ppl,” which prompted one of his friends to ask if he was losing his mind.

“Yea I am,” he replied.

His social media page lists his education and his employer as “USMC,” or the U.S. Marine Corps.

Veterans returning to the U.S. with some sort of psychological infirmity is a common occurrence in the post-9/11 world, according to the veterans’ advocacy group Veterans for Common Sense.

According to a 2010 hearing before Congress, officials from the group told legislators that 313,000 veterans who had been deployed at least once into a war zone had been diagnosed by the VA with at least one mental disability upon their return.

Drilling down further, the group says that 171,000 of those veterans had been diagnosed with actual Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In 2010, the group says, 84,000 veterans were awarded disability claims through the VA for treatment of PTSD.

The group also points to a 2009 study done by Stanford University that concluded that as many as 35 percent of returning veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan have PTSD.

That data conflicts with a 2008 RAND Corporation study published on the VA’s website of veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom that says that PTSD was discovered in roughly 13.8 percent of the 1,938 participants of the study.

Staff writer Terry Lewis contributed to this report.

Comments

Beth 2 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps if our government and judicial leaders would give our war veterans better mental health care, things like this wouldn't happen as often. If you send our men/women into senseless battle, then it's your legal duty to ensure they receive stellar healthcare when they get back home, specifically psychologically.

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Parent 2 years, 7 months ago

Or it could have been that he came back from Iraq and found out his girlfriend is screwing Jody down the street and he went crazy. That can happen to anybody.

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TamewRod 2 years, 7 months ago

Read the article closer. That clearly doesn't appear to be the case here. But good job on trying to twist the story into something salacious.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 7 months ago

I do not know this person, but I have lived through at least 5 wars and post tramatic stress has been used as a catch all for every thing from cramps to drinking. No one went thru what guys did in WWII and no one was even given the glory train. This person joined the service by choice and probably already had a unstable personality to begin with. Or drugs or problems with girlfriend. But I do know that this is the second time in 2 weeks that this has happened. This is costing the taxpayers big bucks. Remember the 3 pot plants and called a helicopter? Get ready for your taxes to go sky high.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 7 months ago

I hope he gets the help he needs now. That is wrong to turn someone down, much less a veteran, for help. These VA clinics seem to not be doing a good job with our veterans. It is very, very sad.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 7 months ago

Is it healthcare he is wanting or a disability check. That is what most of them want. My husband has had excellent care at Dublin and never had a problem. He spent 13 months in Vietnam and very few vets ever had PTSD. I also cannot imagine that the VA would have just flat told him no as far as his health was concerned. Disability check, yes they would have denied a claim for that. But life has a funny way of biting you in the butt.

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waltspecht 2 years, 7 months ago

Each and every individual handles things differently. As Patton found out the hard way, there were shell shock victims from WWII. That was PTSD of that time. There are many Vietnam Vets that have PTSD, there are a whole bunch that don't. I am in no position to judge, and neither are most of you. Unless you have had a wounded soldier die in your arms, or killed for your Country, you have no place to sit in judgement of those that have.

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militarywife 2 years, 7 months ago

chinaberry25, a diagnosis of PTSD is NOT indicative of a disability check. I am the wife of a 28-year-old Operation Enduring Freedom veteran diagnosed with PTSD. We struggled to get him the help he needed when he returned from war. I was told by the VA that there was nothing they could or would do until he actually ATTEMPTED suicide. My husband is now being treated and holds down a great full-time job. He is a military reservist and is preparing to leave our family to serve our great country in the coming months. PTSD may not have been as frequently diagnosed during and after Vietnam, but statistics show the incidence of suicide and other mental health problems among these veterans was (and still is) tremendous.

Thank you, Albany Herald, for the manner in which you have covered this story. It is crucial that the public be educated about PTSD and the toll it is taking on families across the nation.

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