BANGOR – A former solider who served with the man who shot up a downtown eatery earlier this week, injuring a Brewer man, says his friend was trying to get help through the VA for his mental illness involving PTSD.
“Jordan needed help and was looking for help,” said his friend Ron Blanchard.
Jordan Bishop, 32, of Orrington is charged with attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and aggravated assault, after he reportedly used a 9mm pistol to shoot a Brewer man three times and damage Tesoro Italian Restaurant on Harlow Street early Sunday morning.
Both Bishop and Blanchard were members of the Brewer-based 172nd Mountain Infantry Unit, which deployed to Iraq in 2006. The unit saw action and lost two members to a roadside bomb on May 6th of that year.
His friend said Bishop was first was hospitalized for trying to kill himself just over two years ago. He says Bishop got sober and seemed to be on a good path, until moving back to Maine about a year ago.
“Since he moved back to Bangor, since he moved into the house, his mental state has been deteriorating,” Blanchard said.
“My friends, his friends, called me with concerns about his behavior,” he added later. “And I personally contacted the resources we have to get Jordan help.”
Blanchard says he contacted “Coaching into Care” who referred him to the Veterans Crisis Line. He then contacted the VA Suicide Coordinator in Augusta, but never got a response.
Eight days after another member of their Brewer unit took his own life by suicide in February, Blanchard says, Bishop checked himself into the Department of Veterans Affairs at Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta.
He says things did not improve after Bishop was discharged.
“At one point, the VA sent Jordan a coloring book,” Blanchard said. “He became quite upset about that. He was reaching out for services and they sent him a coloring book.”
Bishop was also sent what Blanchard described as a “light box” that was supposed to help improve his moods.
“My focus is to make sure veterans are getting the care that they’re requesting,” Blanchard said.
Blanchard said he’s not making excuses for his friend. He just wants people to know Bishop was trying to address his mental health issue.
WVII-WFVX reached out to the VA in Augusta about this story, and they issued a statement saying there are several resources available to help veterans.
“The VA Maine Healthcare System provides comprehensive outpatient mental health services for PTSD, substance abuse, and other psychiatric needs,” spokeswoman Megan Kon said in the statement. “Multiple approaches are used to deliver these services to veterans including individual and group therapies, as well as medication management.”