Report: Iowa City VA not responsible for veteran's suicide - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Report: Iowa City VA not responsible for veteran's suicide

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Inspectors find an Iowa City VA is not directly responsible for an Iowa veteran's suicide.

Last year, 33-year-old Brandon Ketchum killed himself shortly after being denied treatment at the Iowa City VA Medical Center. Brandon had been seeing a psychiatrist after struggling with PTSD and addictions to painkillers and heroin.

5 members of Congress called on the Inspector General to look at the case. They are Iowa Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, Iowa Rep. Dave Loebsack, and Wisconsin Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin.

The investigation found "shortcomings" at the VA, but couldn't conclude if any of them led to Ketchum's death.

The report says the patient's interaction with his psychiatrist he requested to be admitted was "brief because the patient left the clinic abruptly," not giving the psychiatrist a full assessment of the patient's condition and needs.

It also says the psychiatrist made a "good faith effort" to follow-up with the patient after leaving the session.

Senators Ernst and Grassley, as well as Rep. Loebsack, released a joint statement:

"This case is a tragic example of why we must do better for our veterans. It also illustrates the importance of having independent watchdogs at federal agencies. Inspectors general review agency work and point out problems that need to be fixed and ensure that policies and procedures in place are adequate.  In this case, the inspector general report made four recommendations to improve mental health treatment for veterans going forward, but could not determine if these shortcomings impacted Brandon’s care. With an average of 20 veterans committing suicide a day, the VA must do everything in its power to extend help before it is too late. When it comes to caring for these brave men and women, there is no room for error. We expect the VA to implement the recommendations thoroughly and carefully, and we intend to make sure the VA does so. The VA should go beyond the recommendations if necessary. We all have to work as hard as possible to make sure all veterans receive the care they need and deserve."

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