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 Veteran commits suicide    

   hours after being turned 

              away at VA facility

                  -  Rest In Peace

A person is frustrated. (Pixabay/Released - July 26, 2016 - PETER REID

A former Marine and Army National Guardsmen killed himself after being denied admittance to a VA facility in Iowa City, despite telling doctors that he was having “serious mental issues.”

Brandon Ketchum, 33, killed himself only a few hours after being turned down at the Iowa City VA Medical Center on July 7th. He made an emergency appointment with the facility and spoke to doctors about his struggle.

Ketchum had been struggling with PTSD and substance abuse after returning home from his three tours overseas. He had deployed twice to Iraq as a Marine combat engineer where his job was to clear roadside explosives. He also served once in Afghanistan in the Army National Guard.

After getting turned away, Ketchum created a post on social media.

“I requested that I get admitted to 9W (psychiatric ward) and get things straightened out,” he wrote on Facebook. “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 girlfriend, Kristine Nichols said that he had been having a hard time coping with PTSD and his substance abuse and addiction got worse as he first used painkillers but then moved to heroin.

According to Nichols, Brandon visited the same psychiatrist that he had been seeing for over a year.

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

While serving, he had been through several explosions and ended up with Traumatic Brain Injuries(TBI’s) and concussions.

Jamie Johnson, the public affairs officer for the Iowa City VA Medical Center said in an email to WKOW that there was enough room in the facility to admit Ketchum, and even if there wasn’t they would have found room for him at another facility.

“Generally speaking, I can tell you that we do not have a wait list for beds,” Johnson wrote in the email. “If we have openings and a patient requires admission they are admitted. If a patient requires admission and we do not have beds available at our facility, we would find them a bed at another facility.”

In order to honor Ketchum’s name and help veterans suffering with PTSD and their families, a fellow Marine who served with Ketchum is attempting to create a non-profit retreat in Texas called “Ketchum’s House.”


Trump signs VA law to provide veterans more private health care choices

Hmeless Veterans In Oregon

No man or woman who served their country should be without a safe place to rest his or her head, and yet, veteran homelessness remains a persistent problem throughout the U.S.

It is estimated that there are over 1,300 homeless veterans in Oregon on any given night, and many more who are at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks and dismal living conditions.

Although these numbers have trended downward over the past decade, this still represents more than 10 percent of all homeless Oregonians. This means that those who have served in the military, men and women, are significantly more likely to be homeless than the general public.

Losing Mark: My Story of Military Suicide was written By Karen Richards Nichols. In memory of her husband, Mark, who tragically took his life in 2014.

Mark was a loving dad and husband. He had a misconception that PTSD is for the weak. And it killed him. A misconception killed him and everything we had.


We all know the statistic: Every day 22 veterans take their lives.
As a nation, we have recognized the issue, assistance programs are in place. Things have changed, but too many veterans were taught “PTSD is for sissies” or something similar–a mentality that keeps them from admitting their difficulties and from seeking help.


One year & 25 days have passed since my husband, Mark, joined that number.
Do the math & you will find that approximately 8,580 other veterans have since followed that same path. An untold number of lives have been directly affected by each of these deaths. The numbers are saddening, even sickening. But these veterans and those loved ones who survive them are so much more than just numbers. I don’t know any of their stories, but I know Mark’s.

Mark was a combat veteran. His combat experience changed him. In some ways, a lot. I could tell you the branch he served in, his rank, his postings, the medals he was awarded. But none of that would tell you who he really was, because he was so much more than his service history.  He was a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a friend, an uncle. 

He was an amazing man: outgoing, intelligent, creative, funny, and generous with everything he had. He thrived on helping others: neighbors, friends, family, the elderly, the homeless, and random strangers. He was a good husband and such an amazing father. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the knowledge that he loved us so very much and yet still managed hurt so many people. I know that was never his intention.


We, survivors, are left with so many questions, so many “What Ifs” and “If only's.”
What if I had recognized some of the warning signs, what if I had forced him to seek help, what if I said,… or didn’t say,… or did,…or didn’t do…. The list is unending.


I know I’m not responsible for his actions, but it doesn’t stop the wondering and wishing that there was something I could have done differently or better to have helped him and prevent his death.


Our family has been devastated. We’re still going, we’re still functioning, and some days we’re even doing great. But our loss is always hovering in the background.


There is an empty place at the dinner table, an empty spot in our lives. My children were 4 and 8 when Mark passed. Too young to understand. Too young to even attempt to explain suicide. I have done my best to explain PTS to them, but it’s difficult for them to “get.” Right now all they comprehend is “War is really bad. It kills people. Sometimes on the battlefield and sometimes long after they return home.”


My little boy tells me every day that he misses Mark and that he wishes he didn’t have to die. Every. Single. Day. For over a year now. I have no words, other than “Me too, baby. Me too.” I would give anything to know what to say or do to fix his hurt.


My son is only 5, and his greatest fear isn’t monsters or any of the usual little boy fears. It’s dying. He, at 5, realizes how very permanent it is.


My daughter misses her dad, but more and more has come to resent the loss. Truthfully, I don’t blame her. She has good reason to be resentful. Her entire life has been turned upside down over the past year. Repeatedly. She has been told “No” and “I can’t” so many times. All too often, I just don’t have the time or energy. I’m too busy trying to fill his role in addition to my own with the kids and around the house. There just isn’t much time left for fun anymore. I’m doing my best, and she knows that.


She’s decided that she never wants to have children because she sees how very hard it can be when you’re a parent, and she just hasn’t seen enough of the joys that come with it over the past year. It breaks my heart to see her growing up way too fast, knowing that she’s doing it to help me, to step in and fill some of the void Mark used to fill.


As much as we miss him, I realize how much worse it is for Mark. He’s already missed so much: holidays, birthdays, dance recitals, preschool graduation, and first day of school. The list will only continue to grow as the years pass. I know he would be so proud of the kids, of what they’ve accomplished and how much they’ve grown.


Mark was convinced that “PTSD is for pussies.” This mindset is what prevented him from seeking help when he needed it. It’s the reason he isn’t here today. One single misconception with enormous repercussions. That one misconception is why I no longer have a husband, a partner in life. It’s why my children have no father.


Please, let everyone you know that PTS is NOT a sign of weakness. Do everything you can to make sure that each of our veterans feels it is ok to ask for the help they need.








If you are a veteran struggling with PTSD, the greatest display of strength you can show is to reach out for help. Contact us through this page or on FB   



Mark was a loving dad and husband. He had a misconception that PTSD is for the weak. And it killed him. A misconception killed him and everything we had.








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