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El Paso Veteran commits suicide in VA parking lot

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso Veteran Rob Renz is described as a true Texas gentleman, who died after taking his own life in the parking lot of an El Paso Veterans Affairs facility Jan 10.

Renz’s mother tells KTSM 9 News that her son had been trying to get help as he was suffering from PTSD, tinnitus and insomnia.

“My hope is Rob’s death brings attention to a serious problem and helps other veterans get the help they deserve,” said Rob Renz’s mother Nikki in a GoFundMe created for the family.

The GoFundMe says that Rob Renz went to the VA the day he died to seek help.

“He must have felt there was no end in sight, and he shot himself in the parking lot,” the GoFundMe says.

The Executive Director of the El Paso VA’s Health Care System spoke with KTSM about Renz’s tragic death.

“The tragic event last week that occurred at the El Paso main campus has truly impacted all of us at the El Paso VA, including our workforce, including our veteran patients and the veteran community at large,” said Froy Garza the Executive Director of the El Paso VA Health Care System.

The El Paso VA offers same day crisis care at all facilities and U.S. Military Veterans in suicidal crisis will be eligible for free care starting on Tuesday. They will be able to receive care at any Department of Veterans Affairs facility or private facility.

Dr. Emilia Candelario the Chief of the Behavioral Health Department at the El Paso VA said it’s important for veterans to say they are in crisis.

“We want to emphasize that there is no wrong door to obtaining behavioral health care here. Patients can go anywhere they want, to any of our facilities, and ask for crisis care and let them know that whoever they end up seeing know that there is an urgent need for their care,” said Dr. Emilia Candelario the Chief of the Behavioral Health Department at El Paso VA.

While same-day care is available for veterans in suicidal crisis, the El Paso VA said it is working to improve the wait times for new patients regarding general mental health.

“For new patients coming in for general mental health, we are hovering at about 45 days for wait times,” said Garza.

Garza said wait times are dropping as the El Paso VA has been working on recruitment efforts regarding the number of employees hired since June of 2022.

“Our behavioral health leaders have been able to select over 50 new employees and bring on board over 30 of those employees,” said Garza.

The Veteran crisis hotline can be reached by dialing 9-8-8 and pressing number one. The El Paso VA said friends and family members can also dial the hotline if they know a veteran who is in crisis.

(KXAN contributed to this report)

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