Inspector General Investigating VA Care for Iowa Veteran Who Killed Himself

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Answers could be on the horizon in the controversial death of a local veteran.

Curtis Gearhart took his life earlier this month. Since his death, state leaders have been pressuring Veterans Affairs for information.

Gearhart served two tours overseas as a combat engineer. He returned home to fight another battle, the guilt of losing fellow soldiers he served with. Gearhart's family says he turned to the Des Moines VA for help, but was told it would take five or six weeks to see a doctor.

Gearhart took his own life before that happened.

Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst are both demanding answers from the VA.

“My heart goes out to his family, his friends, and it`s another example of where somewhere our system failed this young man. He needed assistance and he was turned away and we`ve seen that far too often so we are going to be pushing the VA again as in several of these other cases that we`ve seen to get answers,” said Sen. Joni Ernst.

The VA Office of Inspector General responded to Sen. Grassley Tuesday saying, "We have been gathering information on this matter and have requested additional information from VA.  We will assess all the information and determine out next steps based on our analysis."

The inspector general says that process could take two months.

Gearhart’s case is just one of many Sen. Ernst has taken up. She's also looking into the deaths of Iowa veterans -- Richard Miles and Brandon Ketchum.

The two also took their lives while waiting to receive treatment for PTSD.

Ernst wrote to the Department of Veterans Affairs saying more needs to be done for veterans now, including the ability to receive outside care.


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