Marine Commits Suicide Day After Being Turned Away From VA

Marine Commits Suicide Day After Being Turned Away From VA

July 18, 2016

Marine Commits Suicide Day After Being Turned Away From VA

Brandon Ketchum, a Marine and National Guard Veteran approached the VA Medical Center in Iowa City and asked for in-patient psychiatric care to which he was denied.  The following day, Brandon Ketchum took his own life. 

After a tour in the Marines to Iraq, Brandon enlisted again this time with the National Guard and was sent to Afghanistan.  When he returned he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and was plagued with thoughts of suicide.  He had twice been flagged for suicide by the VA in the last year, according to his girlfriend Kristine Nichols.     

Brandon began abusing drugs and developed an addiction to pain killers which soon turned into heroin.  He asked his girlfriend if he should check himself into a psychiatric hospital to which she agreed.  After driving over an hour, the psychiatrist who had Seen Ketchum regularly, denied him admission to the hospital. 

“I requested that I get admitted to 9W (psych ward) and get things straightened out.  Ketchum wrote on his Facebook page mere hours before he took his own life.  “I truly felt my safety and health were in jeopardy, as I discussed with the doc. Not only did I get a ‘NO’, but three reasons of no based on me being not f***** up enough. At this point I say, ‘why even try anymore?’ They gave up on me, so why shouldn’t I give up on myself? Right now, that is the only viable option given my circumstances and frame of mind.”

Brandon’s story is not an isolated case of depression.  It is estimated that an average of 20 returning soldiers commit suicide each day.    In fact, Brandon had lost 10 close ‘brothers in arms’ in the last 3 years to suicide.    

Chris Kemp, a Marine who served with Brandon, wants to now honor his fallen fellow soldier’s memory.  "To see that he went to the VA and they denied him help is just infuriating," said Kemp. He plans to use a 45-acre family plot of land in Texas to establish a non-profit for vets battling PTSD.  "I want to get families and veterans together in nature, like camping outside where they can get together and talk," said Kemp. 

Brandon’s family has requested his records from the VA and is in the process of investigating why he was turned away from the VA when he went there to request treatment. 

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56 Responses

Paige Velzeboer
Paige Velzeboer

December 01, 2016

@Beverly Brandon’s mother. I met your son as my husband served with ur son at camp Pendelton. My husband also was a combat engineer, then he moved to EOD. But he was on many of the same rotations as Brandon and they were both blown up a few times. To hear the details of your son painful struggle, thank you for sharing his story with the world. It must be horrifying to relive this but your courage to tell and fight to be heard is a blessing because so many vets suffer in silence as do their families. I know in caring for my husbands injuries that being alongside somone with TBI and PTSD is beyond comprehension to average folks. your family is courageous and thank you again for sharing. Peace be with you all

Angelo Vitalone Sr
Angelo Vitalone Sr

October 17, 2016

I have been fighting a battle for several problems for months at the va in wilmington del problems are taken lightly a veteran has too beg too get heard then the care comes sad no vet should be treated this way

Jeff
Jeff

October 03, 2016

Why don’t we read about vet’s from the big wars complain about PTSD. I tried to find it on the internet but can’t find any even vet’s from Vietnam war don’t complain they deal an move on

Debbie T
Debbie T

September 10, 2016

My Son has done 3 tours in Iraq. I know he is depressed and has PTSD. I worry about this every day. I lost my Father and son-in-law to suicide. I do not want to lose my Son to PTSD suicide. The fact that they keep sending the same people over and over again to Iraq does not help our troupes. It is time our government stand up and do the right thing! Disband the VA, if they have to, and make it privatized but get our soldiers the help they need and are asking for! They fought these wars so that people might be free. Now free our soldiers to get the help they are requesting!! Our government has FAILED our soldiers!

Beverly Kittoe
Beverly Kittoe

August 24, 2016

After reading some of these posts first of all this is my son Brandon Ketchum and he committed suicide July 8, 2016-this photo at the cemetery was after his Dad passed in 2008. The photo of the Marine is my son. He suffered with PTSD, TBI, and then abused pain pills, then heroin. He went to the VA asking to be admitted on July 7, and was told he needed to go home to take his medication (suboxone) and the following day he killed himself. I hope no mother has to go through this~I never knew there could be pain like this! Something needs to be done with mental health and the VA. Now his daughter will not have her dad to grow up with.

Roger Mann
Roger Mann

August 09, 2016

This is why we need Donald Trump!
Donald Trump and Mike Pence are brilliant and the only candidates in either party that ever said America first! America this means only two candidates want to and will put AMERICA and AMERICANS first and those candidates are your next President DONALD TRUMP and your next Vice President and current Governor of Indiana MIKE PENCE!
Hillary Benghazi Clinton is insane! I have no doubts!

Jerry D. Smith
Jerry D. Smith

July 26, 2016

I too am a veteran and I suffer from PTSD, depression, TBI, and many other issues but thank God I go to a VA that cares for its veterans! Having lived in Wyoming most of my life, this VA has always been here for me! I’ve been through treatment programs and I’m under continuous care both medically and mentally!!! My only issue from them is fighting to get a C&P rating. I was diagnosed with PTSD in September 2010 but never received any compensation for that diagnosis! I’ve been fighting for the past several years but they keep denying me, stating I do not have it nor have I ever had it! Sad part is, in order to be treated for it and go through a treatment program, you have to be diagnosed with it. These C&P folks aren’t too bright, to say I don’t have it, while I’m still being treated for it!

Deb Tisdale
Deb Tisdale

July 26, 2016

This breaks my heart! For this Vet to ask for help and be denied is not acceptable.
Mr. Kemp I think you have a wonderful idea to create a place for Vets! While I don’t live in tje area I would be honored to assist in whatever way I can! Our Nation needs to come together to help our Vets and even our law enforcememt during this crazy time in which we live.

Rosana
Rosana

July 25, 2016

I cried reading this! Prayers for his wife and family and all others out there. I have been there with sicidal thoughts and depression over the years. I thought I would never get out of it and prayer and few people and God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit is what keeps me alive. So days hard.
I don’t agree on always using meds due to the side affects can cause more issues. but we cannot and should not turn our vets away ever!
I deal with them that are homeless in Austin. Again not one should be homeless or going through this like the man and others. So, much needs to change in our country and system. There’s so much to heal people with what God gave us and more!
We need to stand up and fight back for our choice in how we heal, take care of our own.
amen

Scott
Scott

July 24, 2016

This absolutely unacceptable this should never happen to any man or woman returning from overseas deployment, and get this kind of treatment the VA should be ashamed as well as our federal government.

Marilyn stanley
Marilyn stanley

July 24, 2016

I do not understand Kathy’s comment about the VA wanting money. My circle has vets from WWII, Korea and Nam. No one was ever asked for money. That said, as in the civilian world, getting help for psychiatric reasons continues to flounder. Check out who is on what committees in Congress. Not all vets are on the streets because they aren’t being treated. Jobs would be nice, drug and alcohol rehab as well.

Darrel Samuelson
Darrel Samuelson

July 23, 2016

One can credit our adminestration for this . How can we not help them who defend our country when we seem to be able to help people who come to this country illegally Why Why Why ???

Jill Reincke
Jill Reincke

July 23, 2016

My dad gets his care from the VA. He was in Illinois National Guard and called for duty twice. Once for the Democratic Convention. Having never left the United States his benefits are adjusted. I hate seeing these stories. We did try to get mental health help and even though he admitted to considering suicide twice in the last 2 weeks the therapist said he didn’t need help. We are fortunate to have a PA at his clinic who does not give up. And gave us the option to see another therapist. We go to Union Grove WI Clinic and Milwauke WI hospital. In every other area he get excellent care. Almost every week we get something from the VA. My dad is older and has more health needs but they have always been good to him. I see no difference in the amount of time to get an appointment then I do.

National Addiction Treatment Center Alliance
National Addiction Treatment Center Alliance

July 23, 2016

Does anyone have contact to Brandon’s friend Chris Kemp? We would like to help him establish his non-profit for Vets!

NATCAlliance.org

William F. Lund    USMC
William F. Lund USMC

July 22, 2016

Every congress person agrees that we have not taken care of our vets . (for the past 50 years ) BUT nothing ever changes .

nurse
nurse

July 22, 2016

Please know that your nurses support you and want everything that’s best for you. This is not a struggle with the staff, but a struggle with the institution. I’m so sorry this happened…really, really sickened and sorry.

nurse
nurse

July 22, 2016

I will help you with your project. Email me.

Starr
Starr

July 21, 2016

God Bless.. My husband is a veteran.. We are in Florida and had a bad experience in getting care.. Long story short w no return calls or months before he could be seen, he purchased a secondary insurance to get treatment.. 100% disabled paying for full insurances.. It’s bullshit.. So sorry for your loss..

James boyken
James boyken

July 21, 2016

This story, and all the others I hear where the vets needing help infuriate me. We owe these men and women more than we could ever repay so why is it so hard to give them comprehensive medical and psychological care, this needs to change, I pray it does.

Darlene Zamora
Darlene Zamora

July 21, 2016

My son’s dad, committed suicide in 2007. After firing the secretary of the VA, few years back, why is this still happening.They know these vets are tired,troubled & suicidal.It’s a waiting game & they are winning.We must help our men by standing by them, speak, when they aren’t able. Heighten the public’s awareness through social media, the governments passive aggressive extermination of our US Veterans. These are our men here, if we don’t,who will ?

BC
BC

July 21, 2016

This is horific! The Dr should be charged and court martialed. God bless this Marine and his family.

Jeff
Jeff

July 21, 2016

Rest high our hero! Prayers for his family. May God please help fix our system

Barbara Turner
Barbara Turner

July 21, 2016

GOD BLESS His family and friends this is so tragic and I do so hope that they get restitution someday for the lack of service here by the VA!! SO terribly sorry for your loss, I do hope you follow through and get answers and restitution for this!!

Ann Blake-Tracy
Ann Blake-Tracy

July 21, 2016

The VA is nothing but a pill mill. How many drugs with increased risk of suicide listed as a side effect did they have this soldier on? Out of the 10-20 I generally have them report to me they have been given, it is generally between25% – 50% when they should not even mix two of those drugs together! File a wrongful death suit is right and if he was under 25 they know any antidepressant carries the warning bit will double his chance of suicide. Those drugs are the reason we now have more deaths from suicide than combat among the troops. Just look at this long list of documented cases: www.SSRIstories.NET

John E. Norton, SSG USA Ret.
John E. Norton, SSG USA Ret.

July 20, 2016

This physiologist need to be fired, immediately, no review, just canned for what he did to this Marine. It’s not that he was strung out on drugs, he need help and was rejected. All of us veterans needs to contact this place and tell them we will not go away until something is done to the doctor.

Erik Spaulding
Erik Spaulding

July 20, 2016

I would like to hear the exact reason he was turned away. There has to be more to this story.

William Best
William Best

July 20, 2016

Mr President, Congress, VA Administration
DO RIGHT BY OUR VETS. A very close relative quit the VA because as a phyical therapist she was assigned to senior officers for recrational massages instead of being assigned to patients in need. 40 years ago.
And it continues today. I am a proud Vietnam War Vet

William Best
William Best

July 20, 2016

Mr President, Congress, VA Administration
DO RIGHT BY OUR VETS. A very close relative quit the VA because as a phyical therapist she was assigned to senior officers for recrational massages instead of being assigned to patients in need. 40 years ago.
And it continues today. I am a proud Vietnam War Vet

James Konst
James Konst

July 20, 2016

My brother is a veteran of Viet Nam. The VA Hospital has saved him from five separate bouts of cancer. Remember that a lot of good is done, too. The problem is at the top.

Jeffrey
Jeffrey

July 20, 2016

I am so sorry that this happened to this Marine, his girlfriend, and his family. This should have never happened. I am originally from the Washington D.C. area. I get angry and sad when I see homeless veterans. I feel that for all they have sacrificed they should get the services they need to help them and their family

Lawrence Fleck
Lawrence Fleck

July 20, 2016

Was he turned away due to the cuts in funding for the military?

Robert Burton
Robert Burton

July 20, 2016

I think that this is a travesty that seems to occur far too often. The government needs to be held accountable for putting these men and women in harm’s way in the first place! It is my hope that Brandon’s death will not be in vain and that together we can change the current state of affairs and care for our Veterans. I’m a Marine and Army veteran, and I am so very sad to hear about this. Rest in peace, Brandon. Semper Fi.

MATT
MATT

July 20, 2016

Unacceptable regardless, but this is from 2008. I guess its a slow news day.

Joseph Anderson
Joseph Anderson

July 20, 2016

Thank God for all service men and women. They deserve the utmost respect and certainly the care that they have earned. Stories like this one are far too many. I understand how the VA Medical facilities are overwhelmed with Veterans seeking help, but I also know that when a Veteran reaches out like Mr. Ketchum did, they should make this a priority to get him help, period. It is an honor to serve our Veterans. I served in the Veterans Benefits Administration for 15 years, helping as may Veterans as I could get the benefits they deserved. In addition, I would call the VA Medical facility to get help for those who expressed the need to get help right away. Above and beyond my duty. I wanted no recognition or praise, just doing the right thing. It sickens me to know that a lot of those working for the VA are there for the money and could care less about their job. It is not a job, it is about caring for a human being. Each file, each piece of paper is a human. I tear up when I read these stories cause they should never happen. Retired Army man.

Alice Thomsen
Alice Thomsen

July 20, 2016

I am a DAV Certified Service Officer (CSO), and past Commander of a VFW Post. It is not right for this to be happening! Unfortunately I hear this too often. I personally fight with our VA to get the PTSD care I need as well. Sorry to say we have a VA System that is saying the words but not doing the actions. Too often for Mental Health the two questions asked are 1. Are you going to hurt someone else? 2. Are you going to hurt yourself? If the answer is no to those questions, then you are not deemed needing immediate help. Two cases in Spokane Washington VAMC the parents took the veteran to the VA to get them Mental help. They too were turned away. The one son hung himself that same day. The other man’s son went into the backyard and shot himself, the same day. The answer is in my way of thinking: YOU ASKED US TO SERVE, HONOR YOUR COMMITTMENT TO SERVE US, AND GIVE US HELP UNCONDITIONALLY. IF WE CRY FOR HELP FOR PTSD DO NOT PUT QUALIFIERS ON OUR REQUEST!!!!

Glenn Kinney
Glenn Kinney

July 20, 2016

As a Veteran I am appalled to learn this. I too battled the same demons when I returned from Somalia and had to check in to the “flight deck” as we call out here. The VA messed up big time, the policy is if the Veteran even claims to have ideations(thoughts) of harming themselves, they must be placed under 72 hour hold. Or at least that was the policy pre 2008 was my last time up on the deck. This is atrocious. Those running for office say they are for Veterans and support us? Why are they not shouting about this??

Michelle Siemen
Michelle Siemen

July 19, 2016

This is incredibly disturbing. How could they turn him away when he told them he was a danger to himself. There is an organization here in PA Called Project Healing Waters. It’s for Vets to be with other Vets. They fly fish and feel normal because they’re with people who know where they’ve been.

cheryl lewis
cheryl lewis

July 19, 2016

as a service connected disabled veteran, I see what the va does and doesnt do…..We, as Americans, need to demand that the govt as a whole, and the VA in particular, start owning up to their morales and legal obligation to care for our nations veterans,…..this story makes me want to cry

Sharon Garrison
Sharon Garrison

July 19, 2016

I am so sorry for you’re loss. I am sorry our government failed him but, sadly, not surprised. I do hope you sue and win big. No, it won’t bring him back, however, it will send a message and encourage others to follow suit.

Susan Richardson
Susan Richardson

July 19, 2016

First I like to thank all service men for protecting our freedom at home. Second, as a nation we need to take action in allowing those who fought for our freedom the mental health they need before they take their own lives not after the fact! The public needs to recognize the value of an officers life and mental health. Doctors , need more help from us as a people in realizing the importance of support for mental illness because no one should be a lone in the walk for that support!
May Brandon RIP and God Bless his family and our nation.

Brian Dunn
Brian Dunn

July 19, 2016

As a Veteran Service Officer and Vietnam Vet with long standing personal issues, it simply tears me up to read about this young hero being denied VA help when he ASKS for help. I daily run into Vets who won’t or refuse to get help needed. THIS makes my blood boil. I had better NEVER learn the names of these idiots!

Patricia Parsons
Patricia Parsons

July 19, 2016

DO YOUR JOBS & TAKE CARE OF OUR SERVICE PEOPLE
THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE

Valerie
Valerie

July 19, 2016

I hope his family sues for millions and wins. I don’t understand why anyone in their right mind would want to join our military, KNOWING that our government ALWAYS screws them over, regardless of who is in the White House. Our homeless population is mostly veterans with psychological problems. Our government is more than happy to use and abuse our soldiers, but will turn its back the second they need help. The psychiatrist who denied this man admittance should not only be fired and stripped of his medical license, but he should also do time for directly contributing to this poor guy’s death.

kathy
kathy

July 19, 2016

My brother goes through the same thing with the VA. All they want to do is get control of his money. They do nothing for the guys.

Karen Nulph
Karen Nulph

July 19, 2016

It saddens me that our veterans are not being sufficiently cared for. These men and women have served to their country to keep us safe and free. They deserve to be given the medical assistance that they need or ask for. This vet should never been turned away especially since he had been flagged twice already. Maybe our less than satisfactory politicians need pay decreases and that money go to more important places such as caring for our veterans, aging, ect.
Condolences to the Kevin’s loved one and may he RIP.

Sharon Kamrowski
Sharon Kamrowski

July 18, 2016

My husband didn’t commit suicide but had cancer. During his treatment at Ann Arbor VA his records were lost for nine months in which he continually called, contacted fox news, and finally Stabenow his state senator who got him in treatment again. He returned for a scan and to be told that during his absence from care, the cancer had spread and he was terminal.At the end of his previous treatment he was cancer free, he died at 49 with no cancer in the original site. These stories do not surprise me. My husband was TBI and PTSD affected as well, and threatened to set himself on fire in front of the hospital to get noticed and back in medical care. I talked him out of it saying he just made me a party to his plans and I’d go to jail. It was desperate on my part to say that. I told all his doctors he was troubled but they saw him as “on his way out”. It was a horrific experience trying to live 4 hours away from the hospital, trying to come up with funds to stay in the area for three months for treatment and travel up to three days a week for an half hour appt, after traveling that far then having to come home the same day, it took a year for someone to tell us to make appts before ten am so the VA would pay for us to stay the night before.
Nothing concerning the VA surprises me I’m still fighting for his disability.

Pat Crance
Pat Crance

July 18, 2016

What the hell is wrong with the VA this man was seeking help he knew he needed. This Dr. Needs to held for murder

JANICE McGuire
JANICE McGuire

July 18, 2016

This is what our country has come to. Those who fought for our freedom, unable to get help they need..So sad

Mary
Mary

July 18, 2016

That is terrible, thanks for your service and so sorry that the VA doesn’t hep our vets no matter what state or area. My heart is sad for all the lost veterans who felt helpless. Something needs to be done.

val loewenstein
val loewenstein

July 18, 2016

that is so sad i think the va need to step up for these guys

Jobn
Jobn

July 18, 2016

Please have his family put in a “Wrongful death” claim against the VA Dr. and the VA Hospitals that turned him away. The claim will be handled by the Inspectors Generals Office for that district and another VA Hospitals for analysis.

Janice
Janice

July 18, 2016

The VA needs to give the public why he was turned away and who authorized it.

Marlene Carey
Marlene Carey

July 18, 2016

Is this a true story? If so, it’s extremely bothersome. All Vets deserve attention when they ask for it. This is appalling. No,one should be turned away when they know, themselves, that they are ready to take their own lives. My husband goes to the VA in Albany, Ny and has had fantastic care. Someone should be checking out the hospital that turned this courageous man away. Please, someone out there DO something!!

Verna Vala
Verna Vala

July 18, 2016

That is sad that the VA would not help this Marine. They should have. His friend is very thoughtful for what he plans to do.

Sava-Marie Shelton
Sava-Marie Shelton

July 18, 2016

I am so sorry that this happened this should not happen to anyone. As a Veteran myself I know frustrations from the VA. I hope he was a member of myhealth.va.gov and someone can get to his records. My heart goes out to the family. I hope you get some answers.

Braden Richard
Braden Richard

July 18, 2016

This is why I have picked up the 22 pushups challange. My self and a friend are doing 22 push-ups everyday for about the next 9 months to complete a full year. We can’t keep letting our brothers and sisters lose these private battles after they have won the battles they have fought for us.

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