Vet's suicide illustrates mental health crisis

Monday, March 23, 2015

On February 15 of this year, Iraq War veteran Richard Miles entered a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Des Moines and told the staff: "I need help," according to hospital records obtained through an investigation by CNN.

Miles had a history of PTSD, including attempted suicide. but on February 15, the VA hospital simply gave him medication and sent him away.

Five days later he was found dead in the woods, having taken a large amount of sleeping pills and then froze to death.

CNN quoted Katie Hopper, his ex-girlfriend and mother of their daughter, as saying about Miles' attempt to check into the hospital, "That was his cry for help and it was not taken seriously, or received the way it should have been received."

Not everyone who was acquainted with Miles was aware of the overwhelming anguish resulting from his combat experiences He was described as one of the premiere presenters at the Science Center of Iowa, a beloved employee who was popular with the staff and guests.

His suicide illustrates the critical deficiency in mental health care, particularly for the nation's veterans.

This is totally unacceptable. We have known about the situation for year, and have done little to change it. Let's make adequate mental health care for veterans - and for everyone else - a top priority.