President Biden signs rural mental health act named for Iowa veteran into law
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed a mental health bill into law named for Sgt. Brandon Ketchum – an Iowa veteran who took his own life after being denied mental health services in 2016.
The ‘Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans’ Mental Health Act’ was penned by Iowa Representative Cindy Axne. The bill creates new programs within the VA that are specifically targeted at increasing mental healthcare access in rural areas.
According to Axne, Ketchum died by suicide in 2016 after he was denied access to mental health services related to his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility in Iowa.
“I’m so honored to have been able to work with the sergeant’s mother Bev, in this and it’s a big day for Iowa and a big day I hope for our veterans across this country to know that they’ve got the support from members of Congress and the President,” Axne said before the signing on Tuesday.
Axne added “Sgt. Brandon Ketchum was a Marine Corps veteran who served twice in Iraq, and once in Afghanistan. He was a Combat Action Ribbon recipient and a loving son, brother, father, and friend. While I know his loss is felt deeply by all those who knew him, I hope his friends and family can stand proud knowing that this legislation passed in his memory will make a difference for veterans across the United States.”
Axne and Biden called Bev from the Oval Office today at the conclusion of the signing.
The bill was originally introduced with Reps. Ashley Hinson of Iowa, Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, Randy Feenstra of Iowa, Tim Ryan of Ohio, and Ed Case of Hawaii.