Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Congressman Steve Stivers (OH-15) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to ensure no veteran seeking in-patient psychiatric care at a Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center is ever denied such care again. In 2016, Sgt. Brandon Ketchum, a veteran from Davenport, Iowa, was turned away from a VA facility after seeking in-patient psychiatric care. After being denied admission, he tragically died by suicide. Sgt. Ketchum’s tragic death reinforces the need for systemic change within the VA to ensure any veteran who is suffering from a mental health issue gets the treatment they need and deserve. Simply put, under this legislation, the Sgt. Brandon Ketchum Never Again Act, if a veteran asks for mental health care from the VA, they will get it.
“As we approach Memorial Day, we honor all of the servicemembers who gave their lives in support of our nation. Once our servicemembers return home, we have a continued obligation to ensure they are cared for, whether it is a physical or mental health issue. We cannot allow veterans to suffer in silence anymore,” said Loebsack. “I am proud to join with Rep. Stivers to reintroduce the Sgt. Brandon Ketchum Never Again Act, which would ensure no veteran in crisis is ever turned away. When these veterans seek assistance, we as a country owe it to them to answer their call. I am proud to help honor Sgt. Ketchum’s legacy by working to ensure his fellow veterans get the care they need.”
“There is a devastating mental health crisis in our country, and it is disproportionately impacting our veteran community. For those who courageously ask for help, we must ensure that they are never turned away and can receive the in-patient psychiatric care they need,” Stivers said. “We always say ‘no man left behind,’ and the Sgt. Ketchum Never Again Act fulfills that promise.”
“Sgt. Brandon Ketchum Never Again Act” Background
The Sgt. Brandon Ketchum Never Again Act would require that when a veteran enrolled in the VA health care system requests at a VA Medical Center to be admitted for in-patient psychiatric care, the VA must provide that care for the veteran in the psychiatric ward of that Medical Center. If there are not enough beds or providers at that location, the VA must find care for the veteran at a non-VA facility. The bill would not prevent admissions as they currently operate, but rather would supplement existing policy. For example, if a veteran displays suicidal ideations but does not explicitly request to be admitted to the in-patient psychiatric ward, his or her doctor could still recommend admission.
The “Sgt. Brandon Ketchum Never Again Act” has been endorsed by the following organizations
Military Order of the Purple Heart, National Guard Association of the United States, Association of the United States Navy, and AMVETS
Original cosponsors of the legislation
Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Filemon Vela (TX-34), Daniel Lipinski (IL-03), Michael McCaul (TX-10), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Darren Soto (FL-09), Matt Gaetz (FL-01), Jim Cooper (TN-05), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Tim Ryan (OH-13), John Katko (NY-24), Bob Gibbs (OH-18), Jim Himes (CT-04), TJ Cox (CA-21), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Ben Ray Luján (NM-03), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Robin Kelly (IL-02), John Garamendi (CA-03), Pete Olson (TX-22), Don Young (AK-At Large), Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Marc Veasey (TX-33)
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