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Family of veteran treated at Augusta VA who killed self files negligence suit

By SANDY HODSON | The Augusta Chronicle | Published: August 26, 2019

AUGUSTA, Ga. (Tribune News Service) —The family of a Gulf War veteran who killed himself after suffering for years with post traumatic stress disorder has filed suit against the federal government, alleging his VA doctors were negligent.

Raymond Georgia Green died from a self-inflicted gunshot Jan. 10, 2017. His widow, Michele Green, and children Na'Kesha Green, Raven Simon Green-Harris, Raymond George Green Jr., and Dontair Wilson filed the federal lawsuit seeking $4 million in damages Aug. 8.

According to the lawsuit, Green was stationed at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin between 1994 and 1995. The fort is in the Mojave Desert in California. Green, a tank mechanic, witnessed a tank explosion that killed several servicemen. For years he suffered nightmares and flashbacks, according to the lawsuit. Green retired in 2006.

From 2011 Green was treated for depression at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. In April 2016 his primary care psychiatric care provider changed his medication to treat insomnia, anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks, according to the lawsuit.

On Nov. 14, 2016, Green's wife and daughter contacted social workers at the VA Center because he was having auditory and visual hallucinations, according to the lawsuit. He was exhibiting delusional behavior and extreme paranoia and refused to leave his bedroom, stopped attending classes and cancelled a major medical appointment, which had had never done before, the lawsuit contends.

In response to the Green family's concern, his treating physicians responded they couldn't have Green involuntarily admitted to an emergency room or mental health facility, the lawsuit alleges. Two months later, Green was dead. A review of his medical records at the VA revealed that between July and November 2016 Green didn't fill most of his prescriptions and had not visited a psychiatrist since April.

The Green family contends the medical staff was negligent and deviated from the standard of care in not ensuring Green received adequate follow-up psychiatric examination and treatments with careful monitoring of his prescription intake. The lawsuit includes an affidavit by Dr. Moustafa Shafey, chairman of the psychiatry department at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, N.J., who considered Green's care negligent.

There are 20 million veterans in the U.S. , and only about 30 percent seeks medical treatment at VA centers, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Since 2005, about 20 veterans commit suicide every day.

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