In 2013, a rash of veteran suicides at the center were blamed on mismanagement within its mental health unit. In 2014, the center was on the hot seat after the murder-suicide of Marine veteran Kisha Holmes. She killed her three children and then herself at the family's Cobb County apartment, but VA officials knew she was in distress and had identified her as a suicide risk.
She had missed three appointments at the VA before her final act. Later that year, an employee at the VA benefits office died after jumping or falling from a deck on the property.
The VA across the country has struggled for years to stem the epidemic of veteran suicides that followed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many veterans returning from war suffered post traumatic stress disorder or other mental health issues, and the VA system has been overwhelmed trying to serve them.
“Ensuring that employees and veterans have an environment that fosters physical and psychological safety is one of the primary goals at the Atlanta VA Medical Center,” Kendall said. “The Atlanta VAMC cares deeply for our nation’s veterans, and it is a privilege to serve them.”