VA Investigators begin probing suicide of Minnesota Marine

5:51 PM, Feb 1, 2007   |    comments
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Investigators from Washington D.C., and the Midwest region are in Minnesota, looking into the death of decorated Iraq war veteran Jonathan Schulze. Schulze sought treatment January 11th at the V.A. Medical Center in St. Cloud, seeking to be admitted. His family insists he told employees there he was suicidal. Instead, Schulze was put on a waiting list, and turned away. He hung himself at a friend's house just days later. "Of course, my immediate reaction was 'how could this happen... how could this happen?," said Congressman John Kline, himself a retired Marine. "We have this young marine who came back from combat, sought help, and was seen by the V.A. hospital, and yet he ends up committing suicide. And it sounds like he was turned away after asking for treatment, so I was extremely disappointed, and frankly, very angry as I started looking into it." Kline started working the phones last weekend, calling top V.A. officials after he learned of Schulze's case. Wednesday, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D/Hawaii) announced the official probe. Today, investigators began the process of combing through Schulze's V.A. records, and talking to employees at the Minneapolis and St. Cloud facilities who had face to face contact with him. "I am going to be watching closely," insists Kline. "There are discrepancies in different persons accounts of what happened, and I expect that this investigating team will get to the bottom of it." While VA investigators from Washington D.C. look more closely at claims made by Schulze's family and the events that transpired, a regional team will conduct what is called a 'root cause analysis'. "It is an analysis we routinely do in the V.A. whenever we want to look at a process, in the event there is an adverse event," explained VA public affairs officer Sharyl Schaepe, "or if there was something that we are questioning the delivery of that care." Their findings will affect the soldiers who return from Iraq and Afghanistan, and find themselves struggling with the post-traumatic stress that dogged Lance Corporal Jonathan Schulze. Initial results from the probe could be released sometime next week.

By Dana Thiede, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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