DAVENPORT, Iowa – Sgt. Brandon Michael Ketchum, age 33, of Davenport, Iowa lost his battle with PTSD on Friday, July 8, 2016…

Here’s what Brandon experienced. Unedited and in his own words…

Brandon’s last post to OIF/OEF Veterans – Military Empire’s Facebook Page.

“Have any of you had a similar situation to my VA shitsh0w today? I went in to see my psych doc for an emergency appt due to some serious mental health issues I’ve been having. I requested that I get admitted to 9W 9psych ward) and get things straightened out. I truly felt my safety and health were in jeopardy, as I discussed with the doc. Not only did I get a NO, but three reasons of no based on me not being ‘fucked up enough.’ I wish I were making this up, but I’m sure I’m not alone. At this point, I say, ‘why even try anymore’ They gave up on me, so why shouldn’t I give up on myself? Right now, that is the only viable option given my circumstances and frame of mind. Insight and/or advice welcome. Tell it as it is, I’m thick skinned.”

Hours after writing this post, Brandon shot and killed himself…

Here is Brandon Ketchum‘s bio that I received from him in preparation for his going to Peru to participate in the veteran plant medicine healing. Rest in peace brother.

“My name is Brandon Ketchum and am a 33 y/o veteran. I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin and joined the military when I was 21 y/o. I served in the Marine Corps from 2004-2008 as a combat engineer, serving two tours in Iraq, locating and clearing road side bombs. I survived 5 “hard hits” or explosions on the vehicles we used to mitigate explosive obstacles. Unfortunately, not all of my brothers were as lucky as I was…

Since exiting the military I have faced many struggles with my mental health and also substance abuse. I was addicted to a high dose of narcotic pain meds, began abusing them and eventually started using heroin. In February 2015 I overdosed and nearly died but was saved by paramedics and coincidentally a police officer who I had once served in the military with.

I have been involved with the substance use disorder program at the VA since 2014 and will graduate the final portion of the outpatient program this Thursday, the 24th of March, 2016. Now that I have more control of myself and my life I have begun the daunting task of starting to piece my life back together after the traumas of three hard fought combat tours had taken a costly toll on nearly every aspect of my life.

The physical and mental symptoms of severe PTSD, depression, anxiety, and the inability to adapt back to the real world has been a tremendous obstacle for me, particularly going through nearly 25-30 different types of meds yet finding no solid gains or improvements. I am a firm believer in medical marijuana but unfortunately it is not yet legalized where I live…

Although I find a great deal of therapeutic value in woodworking, every day I am haunted by my past; I struggle to find meaning in the wars I waged against people I felt we didn’t protect or help…

Asking for help has only clouded my life with such a stigma that I have carried the ‘crazy’ or ‘broken’ labels, forcing me to have to fight for custody of my little girl that I love more than the world. I’m nearing some possible successes in some aspects of my life, directly as a result of my unwillingness to be discarded and dismissed by the country I swore to give my life for. But at the end of the day, I feel that I am also at war with myself and my ‘demons.’”

9 thoughts on “Thinking of you, Sgt. Brandon Michael Ketchum

  1. Both the VA and military treatment facilities need better access to mental health services. More providers, and the patient’s privacy needs to be protected the same as it is on the outside. It’s in a sad state, and I believe the stigma on the inside is even worse than it is on the outside. Even my is afraid that seeking support for depression will result in his discharge, so he copes as many others do – by drinking or other substances. As a result, many have complete breakdowns and some attempt suicide. I know five people who this has happened to (one successfully ended her life) just in my husband’s shop, so my scope is extremely limited. Then I see my Dad, who clearly needs counseling, refusing his right to use VA behavioral health services because his last psychologist said others need it more than he does. It’s completely rotten.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the male-dominated and hyper-masculine military, it’s no wonder that stigma is such a problem. I would’ve thought that women being included in the military would make a difference, but I guess not. And I’ve read that more women in the military suffer from PTSD than men, but it’s due to sexual assault. Seems like everything is fucked up.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Heartbreaking. Another one lost to the darkness.
    It’s easy to think suicide is selfish (I used to) but it’s not. After my own experience with PTSD (NOTHING like what the military vets go through. I wouldn’t dare compare the 2), I understood how the darkness could take you down.
    I wear a bracelet made my an active duty chick (Six….she is *awesome*, look her up on fb) that simply says “22”. The whole point is to raise awareness, inspire compassion. When someone asks about it, I explain 22 vets/active duty take their own lives every day. #22needyou

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear All, this post makes my head hurt! Thank for posting it anyway. While not yet dead and not fucked up enough either; I can’t seem to get my “ideas through” to the multitude of doctors I’ve seen. Multitude only because of insurance problems, etc. I’m just an old woman with an alcohol problem and a few other things but I just seem to keep hitting my head against walls, not a wall BUT WALLS.

    After reading your post tonight I’m extremely sad for Sargent Ketchum although I didn’t know him. I am also returning to my slightly dark place remembering all the problems I’m having getting “care”. We have laws, rules, and reasons for most of the frustrations I’ve encountered but there doesn’t seem to be many resolutions. And the feeling of abandonment abounds too.

    My Condolences to the Family and Friends of Sargent Ketchum and to all the other Families and Friends of people that have been let down and take suicide as the way out.

    I help myself with humor. ~~dru~~

    Liked by 1 person

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