Navy veteran in poor health tells Bernie Sanders at Nevada town hall: 'I'm gonna kill myself'
A sick Navy veteran who has been struggling to pay his medical bills was recorded on camera at a Bernie Sanders town hall in Carson City, Nev., threatening to kill himself, CBS News reports.
The veteran, who was only identified as John, told the Democratic presidential candidate on Friday that he is facing over $130,000 in medical bills after his Tricare — a health care program under the U.S. Department of Defense — was taken away. John, who spent 20 years in the Navy and completed tours in Kuwait and Somalia, said he suffers from Huntington's disease, which is a fatal genetic disorder characterized by the breakdown of nerves in the brain according to the Huntington's Disease Society of America.
"I have Huntington's disease, I'm in Stage IV," he said in a viral clip captured by CBS News's Cara Korte. "I can barely take care of myself, and I do not have the energy to fight these people."
When asked by Sanders how he would pay for his medical bills, John replied with an unsettling response.
"I can't, I can't. I'm gonna kill myself," he said.
The 2020 presidential hopeful immediately interrupted him and sought to calm the veteran down.
"Hold it, John, stop it," Sanders said. "You're not going to kill yourself."
Sanders then reportedly told John that the two would discuss his situation after the town hall.
"I wish that I could say that what John just described is unique and that he is the only person in America who undergoes that, but it's not," Sanders said after the veteran shared his story. "So John, we'll talk about it after the meeting, and we'll see what we can do about it."
Veterans can lose their Tricare coverage for a number of reasons, including separation from service, loss of eligibility due to age and change in marital status, according to the program's website. Moreover, approximately 20 veterans commit suicide in the U.S. every day, CBS News notes.
Click here to learn about the warning signs of suicide. If you or a loved one is struggling, help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.