A few days before Veterans Day, we lost one of our nation's finest. Curtis Gearhart, a 32-year-old veteran who served as a military combat engineer, took his life last week while waiting to get an appointment at a Veteran Affairs location in Iowa. The tragedy has once again proved that VA still has not adequately addressed its disorganization.
Curtis's girlfriend, Valesca Steffens, explained what led to his suicide. Curtis, she said, had been suffering from PTSD and sought help from the VA because an outside provider would be too costly. That ended up being a deadly decision.
Then nearly two months ago Curtis went to the V.A. because of recurring headaches. Valesca said, "He previously had a tumor. He was worried about it and they told him it would be five to six weeks."
He couldn't wait any longer and took his own life Monday, November 7th in Johnston.
Curtis is one of many veterans who have suffered from VA incompetence. A report from the VA Office of Inspector General last year on the agency's mismanagement revealed that hundreds of thousands of veterans may have died waiting for care.
Under VA Secretary Robert McDonald, the agency has largely failed to hold inept leaders accountable. He even compared wait times at the VA to lines at Disney World, suggesting he did not understand the life and death consequences of the scandal.
Congress has attempted to pursue VA reform legislation, but veterans groups argue they have not gone far enough in solving these rampant issues.
Perhaps the culture in the VA will not change until we have a new White House. As president, Donald Trump promised that our vets will be taken care of. He outlined his list of VA reforms on his campaign website.