Soldier's suicide prompts family to act

Problems with VA not new to local family

SAN DIEGO - A Coronado couple whose soldier son committed suicide says the ongoing problems with VA hospitals across the country is not anything new.

For Howard and Jean Somers, the issues at the VA hospital in Phoenix and elsewhere that are now coming to light are a validation.

The couple's son, Daniel Somers, did two combat tours in Iraq as a member of the National Guard, but his parents said he wasn't the same when he came back the second time.

"He used to be a hugger, but when he came home he didn't want to be touched," his mother Jean Somers told 10News more than a year ago, just after her son committed suicide.

Her son tried to get help at the VA hospital in Phoenix, which is at the center of a nationwide controversy about health care for veterans.

"This is nothing new; they knew something was wrong when we went to Washington 10 months ago," Jean Somers said.  

Daniel Somers left behind a suicide note that said, in part, "My mind is a wasteland filled with visions of horror, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing."

His death and his words are now finding meaning.

"People are finally realizing that what he had to say had value," said his father, Dr. Howard Somers.

To that end, the Somers are part of Operation Engage America, an event scheduled for June 7 (1 p.m.-5 p.m.; American Legion Post 731, 7245 Linda Vista Road) to educate and enlighten others who did not know where to turn as they did when their son was suffering.

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