Rep. Randy Feenstra, an original cosponsor of the Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act of 2021, released the following statement after the Senate unanimously approved the measure:
“Our veterans deserve the best care and attention, including when it comes to treating unseen wounds. That is why I am pleased both the House and Senate have passed this important legislation, which will help provide reliable mental health services for veterans in rural areas.
“After an Iowan, Sgt. Brandon Ketchum, took his own life after being denied care by the VA, it was clear shortcomings in mental health care for our veterans needed to be addressed. I am honored to be a part of this effort alongside my Iowa colleagues Reps. Axne, Hinson, and Miller-Meeks. May God bless all those who have fought to protect our freedoms.”
In May, Feenstra spoke on the House floor in support of passage of H.R. 2441, the Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans’ Mental Health Act. The bill is named in honor of Sgt. Brandon Ketchum, an Iowan and Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tragically, Sgt. Ketchum took his own life after failing to receive the mental health care he needed from the VA.
H.R. 2441 would establish additional Rural Access Network for Growth Enhancement (RANGE) programs based on the need for additional mental health resources in rural areas. RANGE is an existing program designed to support veterans who often are at high risk for homelessness and/or inpatient hospitalization.
This proposal has been endorsed by The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Wounded Warrior Project, Military Veterans Advocacy, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Minority Veterans of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA), The Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, and Policy & Action.