VA Doctor Regrets Facebook Post Telling Gun Advocate to 'Off' Himself

In this April 2, 2015, file photo, a visitor leaves the Sacramento Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Rancho Cordova, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

PHILADELPHIA — A Department of Veterans Affairs psychiatrist said Tuesday he regrets a Facebook post suggesting that a gun-rights supporter "off" himself.

Dr. Gregg Gorton said his comment was meant to be sarcastic but he'd love to take it back nonetheless.

"It's just one of those moments you'd rather take back in your life," Gorton told The Associated Press. "I've worked 30 years to treat psychiatric patients. I teach about suicide prevention. ... That's not me."

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia is reviewing his job status, Gorton said. He has worked for the agency for 11 years. The hospital has apologized to veterans and called the post "unacceptable."

Gorton's comments follow a story in The Washington Times.

Gorton was responding to a post that came through his Facebook page by an apparent gun-rights supporter, according to images posted to the website Imgur and described by the newspaper.

"I am all for gun control," the user wrote. "If there is a gun in the room, I want to be in control of it."

Gorton replied: "Off yourself, please."

Gorton said he would not call himself a gun-control activist.

"I have concerns about gun violence, but many of us do," he said.

He said he has deleted the post and realizes the embattled Veterans Affairs agency does not need more bad press.

"The post was totally inappropriate and does not convey our commitment to veterans. We are taking steps immediately to address the situation," the VA told the newspaper.

In an unrelated matter, VA officials told Congress this month that nearly a dozen employees at the regional office in Philadelphia could face discipline over their errant handling of a backlog of benefit claims.

The VA's inspector general had found that Philadelphia staff neglected mail, altered claims dates and reviews and made $2.2 million in duplicate benefit payments as it tried to reduce backlogs.

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