An Army veteran living in Texas admitted to making death threats to federal employees working for the Department of Veterans Affairs as part of a plea deal.
According to a DOJ press release:
Mark Williams Jr. was a U.S. Army veteran receiving treatment at VA facilities. Today, he admitted to making a series of threatening statements via interstate communications.
Beginning in June 2021, Williams began sending threats towards the staff at various VA facilities. These included calls to the Lake Jackson VA Outpatient Clinic, White House VA Hotline and Veterans Crisis Line.
As part of his plea, he admitted that during a call on Oct. 25, 2021, he made repeated threats to kill employees at the Lake Jackson VA clinic.
The veteran is out on bond until his sentencing hearing on September 6. Williams faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible fine up to $250,000.
Avoid Jail Like A Boss
Stories like Williams serve as an important reminder that no matter how upset you may get at a VA employee, it is never a good idea to lose your cool.
And it is an especially bad idea to make threats much less death threats directed at anyone, especially federal employees. Don’t ever do that. It’s a horrible idea. VA investigators will get you if you do it.
There are three steps a veteran can take to avoid run-ins with the law when trying to get help from the Veterans Crisis Line, White House VA Hotline, or other VA call centers:
- Avoid making death threats to federal employees
- Remember that your call to VA may be recorded
- Be professional, to the best of your ability, when on the phone
I cover these in more detail within the video above.
More To Williams’ Case
While I don’t condone bad behavior, especially making death threats multiple times over a four-month period, I am left wondering what the context is for the Williams case.
Was he just disgruntled, or was he delusional due to an aggravated service-connected disability or illness? Was VA not providing Williams with the health care he needed? What trigged him?
Peculiar here is the repeated threats over a four-month period where threats were allegedly leveled during calls to the Veterans Crisis Line – which is the suicide hotline for veterans – and the White House VA Hotline.
Think Williams was trying to get help?
Here is what I suspect happened based on the three VA organizations referenced in the DOJ presser.
The veteran tried to get care, possibly mental health care, from Lake Jackson VA Outpatient Clinic. He did not timely receive access to appropriate health care and was triggered by an employee there when trying to get help.
Williams called the Veterans Crisis Line due to suicidal ideations caused by a lack of access to appropriate health care that could have mitigated his aggravated state. He did not get the help he needed after calling the suicide hotline and called the White House VA Hotline.
At least one death threat was made that VA recorded on a telephone hotline. The veteran admitted to that death threat since it was recorded.
People generally do not make death threats over a four-month period unless something is very, very wrong. Unless Williams has a unique case of turrets or a bad sense of humor, I would bet my money on him receiving poor treatment from VA that triggered his unlawful reaction.
It would be beneficial if DOJ would also provide more context about the escalation and confrontation leading up to the threats, don’t you think?
Source: Department of Justice