Star Tribune425 Portland Av. SMinneapolis, MN 55488Dear Editor,I am writing this letter with hope to make a difference with how the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs, procedures for the well-being and care that is given to Veterans whom have recently returned from the front lines. Recently on January 16th a young veteran from New Prague, Jonathan Shultze, 25, committed suicide after being denied admittance into the St. Cloud V.A. Hospital after telling staff member that "he was having suicidal thoughts". I believe that their needs to be a big change in the V.A.'s process for evaluating Veterans that have the danger to hurt themselves or others.
The soldier had a previous condition for depression and his Father has over 400 pages of documentation from previous clinical meetings for his Depression. Even after Schultze's plea's for help he was still not admitted, now if a person that is willing to come straight forward and say they are having suicidal thoughts and not be able to get treatment for it, then my main concern is a lot bigger than just this one incident.
If that were the case then what about the lack of help for people who are not seeking help with as much effort? How many lives have been lost due to the lack of care for those suffering from severe depression? This Issue needs to be re-evaluated by those in the V.A. with proper authority to make a difference.
On top of the V.A denying Schulze for admittance, they have not come up with any logical explanation of why he was not admitted no matter what his Circumstance was. On previous meetings with a Psychologist, the records show that he had said various comments that would suggest he needed more help, like: "my life has been falling apart since I returned from Iraq", and he also had a problem with hearing "Intrusive military related sounds, and combat flashbacks".
With these records there should have been a red flag in Schulze's case from the beginning given his record for depression. When the V.A. was forced to say something in explanation of the tragedy, Joan Vincent the Public affairs Officer at the St Cloud V.A. hospital stated: "our biggest concern is this is a really tragic incident and of course we express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of this young man, we also encourage anyone with suicidal thoughts to seek help." I don't believe that this is a good enough explanation for the lack of care that Schulze received and I think that whoever is responsible for his denial into the V.A. hospital should lose their responsibility.
The Father and Step-Mother of Schulze both expressed how they feel that their son would still be alive if the V.A. acted on their son's plea for admittance. They recall witnessing their son telling a counselor over the phone that he was feeling suicidal, and then hung up the phone. When his parents asked him what the counselor said, he said he was # 26 on a waiting list.
When Officials at the V.A. office were questioned about the Denial for Admittance, the records show that he failed to tell hospital officials that he was thinking about committing suicide. These records are obviously sketchy and with eye-witness accounts from the victims' family contradicting what the records say happened, I am very curious to see the way that this investigation is going to turn out. I think that this lack of care for this man is absolutely unacceptable, and changes need to be made to see our young men and women that risk their lives for our country, have the best treatment and help from all aspects of society and our government. Once again I must state that I believe that their needs to be a big change in the V.A.'s process for evaluating Veterans that have the danger to hurt themselves or others. After analyzing this tragedy I do hope that explanation and some sense of resolution may come following this editorial.