The staff and clients at the Veterans Outreach Center in Spokane Valley are reeling from the loss of beloved counselor Brenda Thurman.
Thurman, who died Monday after an apparent accidental shooting in her home in Spokane Valley, had worked for the Veterans Affairs since 2007.
“People who knew her can’t say enough about how sweet of a soul she was and how important she’s been since she’s worked in the VA,” VA spokesman Bret Bowers said. “This is really hitting the veteran community hard.”
Her husband, Dwayne Thurman, called police Monday morning and reported that his wife had been shot in the chest accidentally. She was taken to the hospital, where she died.
The incident is being investigated as an accidental shooting and Dwayne Thurman has been cooperative, said Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Mark Gregory. No charges have been filed.
Dwayne Thurman is an Army veteran and works at the VA’s downtown Spokane clinic for homeless veterans. He is also an unpaid reserve deputy with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Wade Magers said.
Thurman’s job is to assist with special events and search and rescues, Magers said. He did not go out on patrol with deputies as some reserve deputies do in other counties, the sheriff said.
“It’s very tragic,” Magers said of Brenda Thurman’s death. “We’re completely sick.”
Thurman was an Army veteran who was a strong advocate for veterans in general and female veterans in particular.
Vietnam veteran David Witte saw that dedication firsthand. He was Thurman’s first patient when she began at the VA, and he has been seeing her ever since for post-traumatic stress disorder.
“When I first started going to her, I had no idea what PTSD was,” Witte said. “She used the tools at hand and basically showed me that’s what was wrong.”
Thurman helped him deal with the anger and rage that his PTSD sometimes brought to the surface. Witte credits her with saving his life.
“I’m serious,” he said. “I’m still here because of her.”
Witte said Thurman and her husband would usually attend motorcycle rides organized for local veterans. “I know Dwayne,” Witte said. “He’s a good guy. Right now I feel for him.”
Witte thought of Brenda Thurman as a dear friend and said they would often talk about their families.
“It’s just tremendously tragic what has happened, for her husband and the veterans who knew her,” he said. “It hit me extremely hard. She’s been an angel.”
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