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Ernst Receives Ketchum, Gearhart Updates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) received two letters that provided an update on the ongoing investigation and inquiries into the deaths of Iowa veterans Mr. Brandon Ketchum and Mr. Curtis Gearhart from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Inspector General (IG) Michael Missal.

Senator Ernst has written several letters to VA IG Michael Missal, who leads the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG), requesting an investigation into the VA’s handling of the medical treatment for Mr. Ketchum. Additionally, the Iowa Senator wrote VA IG Missal following the death of Mr. Gearhart on November 15th, 2016, to request an investigation into the alleged denial of treatment by the VA.

In IG Missal’s response on Mr. Ketchum, he stated he expects a final report on the investigation in the Spring of 2017.

In addition, the VA OIG detailed that it has requested additional information to determine whether or not a formal investigation into Mr. Gearhart’s treatment is necessary: “We will assess all the information and determine our next steps based on our analysis of the matter. We expect this initial process could take up to two months.”

Following the update provide by IG Missal, Senator Ernst said, “It’s critical that we receive these reports as quickly as possible in order to move swiftly and correct any flaws in the system in hopes of preventing future tragedies.

“I intend to continue closely monitoring these investigations as we head into the transition into a new administration. Too many of our nation’s veterans have fallen through the cracks of the VA’s system and we must be able to hold the VA accountable for whatever the IG might find. We cannot allow any questions surrounding the deaths of Mr. Gearhart and Mr. Ketchum to go unanswered.”

Click here to read the VA IG’s response regarding Mr. Brandon Ketchum.

Click here to read the VA IG’s response regarding Mr. Curtis Gearhart.