On this Veterans Day, Senator Joni Ernst is raising concerns about how the Veterans Administration is responding to “whistleblowers.”
“We do have to be vigilant in this oversight and it quite literally is a matter of life and death,” Ernst said during a senate hearing this year.
The VA’s Office of Inspector General operates a hotline to field complaints from VA staff and veterans, but Ernst said in a statement yesterday that it’s unclear whether the agency is reviewing those complaints quickly enough.
“All too many times in the past there has not been the follow-up necessary and those months delay could mean another veteran that has been left untreated or another veteran that takes their life because of a lack of care by the VA,” Ernst said during a senate hearing this year.
Ernst is asking officials for an update on the case of Brandon Ketchum of Bettendorf, a 33-year-old veteran who committed suicide in July. Ketchum did tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Ketchum wrote on his Facebook page hours before he took his life that he had asked to be admitted to the VA Medical Center in Iowa City, but was sent home with medication.
Later today, Ernst will be presenting three Iowa veterans with the medals they earned for service in times of war, but did not receive yet. One ceremony will be held in Marshalltown at 4:30 p.m. for a Vietnam veteran and a veteran of World War II. At 6 p.m., Ernst will be in Ankeny to award the Bronze Star and other medals to a Vietnam Veteran. Ernst held similar ceremonies earlier this week in Lenox, Newton and Cedar Rapids to present medals to veterans.