Akaka wants an investigation of 2 VA hospitals after suicide
MINNEAPOLIS » An Iraq war veteran committed suicide after his family said he was turned away from two VA hospitals, and now Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka has asked for an investigation of the hospitals' actions.
Akaka, the new chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, also wants to know what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is doing to prevent tragedies similar to Jonathan Schulze's.
"I am concerned that reports of VA's failure to respond to Mr. Schulze's request for help may indicate systemic problems in VA's capacity to identify, monitor, and treat veterans who are suicidal," Akaka wrote in a letter last week to Dr. Michael J. Kussman, the acting undersecretary for health with the VA.
Schulze, 25, of New Prague, Minn., told a staff member at a VA hospital in St. Cloud last month that he was thinking of killing himself and asked to be admitted, Jim and Marianne Schulze, his father and stepmother, have said.
They said Schulze, who left the Marines in 2005, was told that he could not be admitted that day. The next day, a counselor told him by phone that he was No. 26 on a waiting list.
Four days later, on Jan. 16, police found Schulze hanging from an electrical cord.
In December, Schulze sought admittance to a VA hospital in Minneapolis but was told he could not be taken in for treatment until March, his father has said.
A phone message left with Jim and Marianne Schulze was not immediately returned on Wednesday. They have said their son would still be alive if the hospitals had acted on his pleas for admittance.