Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to advance Rep. Cindy Axne’s (IA-03) bipartisan legislation to expand mental health care for rural veterans.
The Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans’ Mental Health Act, named in memory of Iowa veteran Brandon Ketchum, establishes new Rural Access Network for Growth Enhancement (RANGE) programs through the VA and supports additional research on rural veteran mental health care needs.
“I can think of no better way to honor the service and story of Iowa veteran Brandon Ketchum, just days before Memorial Day, than the House passing legislation named in his honor to secure better care for our veterans,” said Rep. Axne. “The care our veterans receive shouldn’t be determined by their zip code, but lack of adequate care in our rural areas can mean a veteran doesn’t get the support they need. This bill will expand mental health resources in our rural areas and ensure veterans like Sergeant Ketchum can get the care and support they’ve earned.”
“Brandon asked for help but was turned away because of a lack of resources. We must make sure – in his memory and for the sake of others still serving — that when our soldiers return home, they can get the treatment they need.” said Rep. Axne in a speech before the U.S. House.
In April, Rep. Axne introduced the legislation in the House with the backing of the entire Iowa House delegation.
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.