"The first deployment he came home and it was like nothing ever happened but the second deployment he came home a total different person," said Emma Dash, widow of Sgt. Brieux Alexander Dash.
Dash, 33, died by suicide on March 14, 2019, after being involuntarily committed to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center mental health unit for protection from harm after an attempted suicide.Dash used a weight-bearing garment to hang himself from his bedroom door. His body was found by another patient. This is considered a "never event."
"They failed to monitor him like he had been ordered to be monitored. They were supposed to watch him every 15 minutes, they weren’t doing that," Peter Bertling, attorney for Emma Dash, said.
Peter Bertling, Bertling Law Group, has filed a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of Emma Dash for the wrongful death of her husband, Brieux Dash. This wrongful death claim focuses on the loss experienced by Emma Dash and tells the story about what a widow with 3 children experiences after her husband has died by suicide.
This is a unique situation. Emma worked as a pharmacy technician at the West Palm Beach VA where her husband died by suicide. She knew the people who treated him.
After Brieux attempted suicide at home, Emma believed the best place he could be taken was the West Palm Beach VA. She specifically asked the officer to take Brieux to the VA instead of another facility. She now regrets that decision.
"He’s literally a veteran in a veterans hospital in a psych ward," she said. "I did not send him there to kill himself. I sent him there to get help and obviously I sent him to the wrong place."
Emma and her three children continue to struggle emotionally and financially since her husband’s death. The VA still refuses to accept responsibility for Brieux’s death despite a scathing report issued by the VA Office of Inspector General.
"I got nothing from them. Zero. Nothing. Not even an apology. A legit apology. We had a meeting and they told me it was due to his military training was the reason he was able to pull this off in 15 minutes. That’s what I was told," she said. "I'm doing what I'm doing because I want to make a difference. I have all of his soldiers calling me. Everyone's scared to go to the VA."
Emma is trying to find out the true story regarding Brieux’s death. As Peter Bertling moves forward with her claim and potential lawsuit, he hopes to accomplish that goal so Emma can achieve some closure-- to the extent that is ever possible.
“While I applaud any attempt by the VA and DOD to prevent deaths by suicide, these organizations need to be held accountable when they fail to follow their own suicide prevention policies and procedures; fail to properly train their staff regarding suicide prevention; fail to comply with applicable standards of care regarding suicide prevention; and fail to learn from their past mistakes. I will continue to hold the VA and DOD accountable for any death they could have prevented,” Bertling states.
Bertling Law Group would like to thank The CW West Palm for its continued coverage of Emma's story, as well as all outlets supporting the awareness of this situation. Please follow us on Facebook to keep up with this case. We welcome any comments and/or feedback.
Peter Bertling and Bertling Law Group provides compassionate legal representation to Veterans, Active-Duty Military and their families in medical malpractice and wrongful death actions against the VA and DOD. We strive to get answers to questions about what went wrong and obtain maximum compensation for our client's loss. If you are a victim of military medical malpractice, we would love to hear your story and see if we can help.
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