Family seeks help for veteran accused in elderly attack

by: Carl Willis Updated:

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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. - The family of an Iraq war veteran accused of beating a man and stealing his car says he needs help.
 
Sy Smith, 33, has been in jail for nearly a year without bond or a trial date.
 
He was arrested on suspicion of beating a 79-year-old man and stealing his car.
 
Smith's father says his son was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. 
 
He says Smith was admitted to Atlanta VA Medical Center after a suicide attempt, but was released 10 days later.
 
"I think they just turned him out too fast, put him on some new drugs and said, 'Yeah this will be the answer to the problem,' but it wasn't," said Karl Smith.
 
Smith believes the care that was provided by the VA Medical Center played a part in his son's sporadic and violent behavior.
 
"He committed the crimes, but why did he commit the crimes?" said Smith. "Was it because of the drugs they had him on? Was it making him do things outside of what he should be doing?" 
 
Smith's alleged victim, Jack Wilson, is also a veteran. 
 
Wilson talked to Channel 2’s Carl Willis last year and said the there's no excuse for the attack.
 
Willis called the VA hospital for a comment.
 
They responded in writing that they were unable to discuss this incident due to privacy concerns, but they did offer a statement. "The Atlanta VA Medical Center cares deeply for every Veteran we are privileged to serve," they wrote. "Our goal is to provide the best quality, safe and effective health care our Veterans have earned and deserve." 
 
Smith's father says the care, in some cases, is not effective enough.
 
"These guys coming back from war need more than just drugs," he said. "They need help. Fix the problem instead of just throwing him in jail and locking him up and thinking the problem is just going to go away. It's not."
 
The VA encourages veterans to seek help if they are experiencing a crisis by going to a VA facility or by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.



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