It was 7:10 am and Nathaniel (my grandson) missed the bus, so we jumped into my truck to head to Crandall High. I arrived home about 7:35 am & poured another cup of coffee and sat down in front of my computer in my office. The events that would unfold in the next minutes would forever impact and change my life.
Minutes later, I hear the banging of the door and jump up to find 4 Kaufman county sheriff department police officers standing in my living room with guns drawn. As I rushed in they shouted 'get out', there's been a report of a stabbing here. "You must be at the wrong house", I shouted, as they ushered me out into the morning chill. "Are you Lonnie Barnard?" "Yes", "It's your wife (Vicky Lynn Barnard) she's been stabbed."
I turned and for the first time noticed her brother's car gone. I crawled back into my truck starting the engine and turning on the heater. Moments later a policeman brought me my jacket as I asked, "Is she ok"? "We don't know yet, we're waiting on the paramedics." As more and more squad cars arrived and then finally an ambulance I stepped out as now my daughter from Seagoville, Amie arrived. At this point I am in a daze and just remember a detective informing me that my bride didn't make it.
By now Leslie (my other daughter) and Pastor Todd had arrived. They informed us that we would not be able to go back in the house and crime scene tape wrapped around the yard. At some point my son showed and who else I'm not sure. Slowly, the police began to leave and the detective informed me that I would need to go to the Kaufman Sheriff's office to be interviewed. Finally, around 2 o'clock the interview was completed and my daughter from Bandera had arrived. We all met at Amie's and by now knew that Ray (the brother to Vicky) had turned himself in and was in the Kaufman county jail.
Now that's the story but really it begins two years earlier when after Ray's first suicide attempt we built a room for him and moved him here from Palm Springs, California. The stints in mental facilities, the trips to local judges, the failing of the entire Mental Health system had become very apparent as those trips in total maybe had no more than 30 minutes in front of a psychiatrist or psychologist. Time after time he had been released without any kind of diagnosis or plan of care. Many, many times Vicky and I had sat talking with him about the brokenness of his soul and his need for the healing power that only Jesus could provide. Over 40 years of a lifestyle that was deeply entrenched in his own depravity though and sharing the Gospel message was often met with an almost demonic rejection, as we watched as the word Jesus would cause him to flinch.
For myself having long worked as a minister in addiction, homelessness and prison release it did not come as a shock but the outcome was surprising even to me since he had never shown violence toward us.
This foundation is a response to an enormously broken system of mental health in all it's failures with a full knowledge that true healing is sent down from Heaven by God himself. Thankfully we have, even before this event, been quite aware and have developed relationships with men and a Savior who have real answers. Our goals are to take these real answers, which come from God's word and aggressively develop opportunities to train and retrain a generation of mental health care professionals who have real answers.
Thank you in advance to each of you in your willingness to help. We are highly motivated to do this well! To God be the Glory. Amen.
Written by Lonnie Barnard
The story is hard but it is true, the hearts are broken but strength is found. You see...the Barnard family (including Lonnie, Matt, Stephanie, Amie, and Leslie, along with Vicky's beloved son Jimmy) will continue to fulfill Vicky Lynn Barnard's (vlb) legacy and fight. The vlb Foundation found its beginnings after the tragic death of Vicky Lynn Barnard, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, breast cancer survivor, and friend to so many.
In 2019, Vicky Barnard began a journey in the care of and support of a family member (a brother) who was unstable, suffered from severe anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, delirium, and depression. After 3 attempted suicide attempts and a manic episode, that all sent him to the hospital and mental health facilities, there was yet something missing. A number of challenges came together including very elusive diagnosis, no real plan of care, non-compliance and cooperation of care, misinformation from facilities or non-communication despite having POA (power of medical attorney), mistreatment and disrespect of Vicky the caregiver by doctors, case workers, and staff, and much more.
Vicky always had the instinct that there was no clear diagnosis that made sense, and she also became frustrated at the entire mental health system as she became frustrated, helpless, and ran in circles with doctors, case workers, case managers, and staff. She was laughed at, mocked, and treated rude on many occasions as she sought answers, asked questions, and pleaded for help. On one occasion, a staff member at one facility even told her to "Google it!" when she asked about one of the diagnostic words on her brother's discharge papers. The altogether push and fight to get him better care and have him committed became her demise.
On the morning of January 29th, her brother took her life while she was in her sleep. That same week and just a few days prior, her brother saw a doctor after attempting suicide in late December and being discharged in early January. At that 15 minute doctor visit, my mother questioned the facilities about his plan of care because he really should have been under care and she was expecting him to be readmitted to a local mental health facility. The answer was, "he should be getting a call on his cell phone from the psychiatrist." My mother was reaching her breaking point as she struggled as she wanted her brother out of her home, as her own health and mental health were put under constant pressure. Unfortunately, she never succeeded with her 2 year journey of getting her brother the proper care and support.
Now we reach today, a family has lost the centerpiece of their family, the one person who kept smiling and bringing everyone joy, kindness, support, an ear, friendship, and just genuine Christian fellowship. Vicky would be happy that The vlb Foundation is continuing her work to advocate, find resources, seek support, and provide ongoing assistance to those who have reached their pivotal limit. We thank so many of you who have helped us begin this journey, and so many of you who have donated so generously to get this foundation started. We will continue to seek support, collaborate with faith-based organizations, work together with Christian-based counselors-therapists-physicians, and work with other organizations to improve, advocate, and support mental health.