Digging Deeper: Investigation into veteran's suicide - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Digging Deeper: Investigation into veteran's suicide

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(KWWL) -

The Veteran Affairs Inspector General is now investigating the death of an Iowa veteran. 33-year-old Brandon Ketchum killed himself after a psychiatrist refused to admit him for psychiatric treatment at the Iowa City VA Medical Center.

Senators Joni Ernst, Chuck Grassley, and Ron Johnson from Wisconsin have all called on the Inspector General to look at this case they believe was a failure.

Marine and Army National Guard Veteran Brandon Ketchum came back from war in 2013, and retired from the military.    

After he came back, he journaled, "I came home from war only to be lost in the fog of another war."

Those are the words the 33-year-old wrote before he committed suicide. 

His job of clearing roadside explosives as a combat engineer in the marines took a toll mentally and physically.

For the past year, Brandon had been seeing a psychiatrist at the Iowa City VA Medical Center. 

He'd been struggling with PTSD and addictions to painkillers and heroin.

It all boiled down to an emergency visit in July, where he asked that same psychiatrist to be admitted to the psych ward. 

His girlfriend Kristine Nichols, says the psychiatrist refused to admit Brandon. 

"It wasn't like a new person," said Nichols. "He (the psychiatrist) knows Brandon's history, he knew he was flagged for suicide with the VA. At least two occasions in the past three years he's been flagged for suicide."

Brandon expressed outrage on Facebook after being turned away, saying "they gave up on me."

Just hours later, Brandon took his own life. 

The question of why the Iowa City VA Medical Center "gave up" on Brandon still remains a big question.

"If he was asking for help and if he had been there, if he had gotten their help before, why, why was he turned away?," asked Brandon's mother Beverly Kittoe. 

His family aren't the only ones asking this question. 

Iowa Senators Ernst and Grassley and Wisconsin Senator Johnson writing a letter to the VA Inspector General, asking to open an investigation into Brandons death.

The Inspector General responded back to that request, "the circumstances regarding his suicide are now under review."

Senator Ernst, a Veteran herself, has asked the Inspector to investigate the VA's health care services two times now. Her first request was in July, where she asked the office to also detail concrete steps to prevent tragedies like Brandons from happening again. 

The VA Office's most recent statistics from 2014 show that Veteran suicides are down from 22 per day to 20 per day. 

Senator Joni Ernst responded to those numbers, saying "I remain concerned and disheartened that progress is not being made quickly enough."

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