Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) led the entire Iowa House delegation in honoring the memory and service of Sergeant Brandon Ketchum of Iowa with the introduction of bipartisan legislation named in his honor that would expand access to mental health care for rural veterans.
In 2016, Sgt. Brandon Ketchum of Davenport died by suicide after he was denied access to mental health services related to his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility in Iowa.
The Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans’ Mental Health Act establishes new Rural Access Network for Growth Enhancement (RANGE) programs through the VA and supports additional research on rural veteran mental health care needs.
“Veterans like Sgt. Ketchum put their lives on the line and serve our nation with honor. When they come home, they should be able to receive the care they need regardless of their zip code.” said Rep. Axne. “We need to improve mental health care for veterans to ensure any veteran requesting treatment has the proper resources are available to them. Turning veterans away shouldn’t be an option. I’m proud to introduce this commonsense legislation to establish more mental health programs and examine some of the barriers our rural veterans might face when seeking mental health care.”
“The case of Sgt. Ketchum is tragic and shows us that we must do more to serve our veterans,” said Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02). “Expanding healthcare services in rural America and among our veterans are two of my top priorities in Congress, so I am proud to join the entire Iowa delegation in this effort. We simply have to do better for our veterans, there is no other option.”
“Our veterans deserve the best care and attention, including when it comes to treating unseen wounds. That is why I am honored to be a part of this effort to expand mental health services to veterans in rural areas. After Sgt. Ketchum’s heartbreaking death, it is clear the lack of reliable mental health services for our veterans needs to be addressed. Our legislation will help prevent tragedies like this moving forward,” said Rep. Randy Feenstra (IA-04).
“Sergeant Ketchum’s tragic story is too common among veterans, especially those in rural areas who may have a harder time accessing mental health services. This legislation, introduced in his honor, will help increase access to mental health services for veterans and ensure those who served our country have the support they need and deserve once they return home,” said Rep. Ashley Hinson (IA-01).