The president of the VNRC, a veterans’ activist group in Des Moines, has challenged Governor Branstad to find some missing long term psychiatric beds at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. But the governor says he doesn’t know anything about them.
Bob Krause referenced the governor’s response to a question about lack of mental health care at the Veterans Home. In his response, Branstad stated "I really was not aware of that. You know I am a veteran and I am always concerned about how we take care of veterans."
“I am amazed at Governor Branstad’s retreat to ignorance on this matter. This sounds more like a ‘whodunit’ mystery than a responsible government. Where did they go?” asked Krause.
“The loss of long term psychiatric care beds at the Iowa Veterans Home has been public knowledge since 2013. That was when the Veterans National Recovery Center (VNRC) blew the whistle on numerous problems coming to the light at the Iowa Veterans Home. The elimination of the 20 psychiatric beds was a central complaint at the time, in addition to the sexual harassment and the illegal feeding of victim information to perpetrators and the massive service cutbacks.”
“He fired a guy over the mess. How did he not know, and why is he now hiding behind his uniform? While I respect the uniform that Governor Branstad wore while on active duty, that he wore the uniform should not be a cover how Iowa is ignoring PTSD vets that need long term psychiatric residential care,” said Krause.
“In addition, to the 20 that were lost, new long term care psychiatric beds were lost when the Branstad administration cancelled $105 million dollars in federally aided construction project at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. A complete new building was to have been dedicated to long term psychiatric beds. The cancellation took place after former Governor Culver was defeated and Branstad had been sworn into office,” stated Krause.
“It should be no surprise that a governor that places a low priority on mental health programs might forget a psychiatric bed or two.” concluded Krause.
Thursday morning, Governor Branstad signed a proclamation in support of mental health awareness, but protesters who showed up to watch want more than words.
Some wore black bands in protest of the governor's push to privatize mental health facilities.
"For the services to serve the people, they have to be of the people. To privatize it, it's for profit," said Rev. Kenneth Briggs with the Veterans NationalRecovery Center.
This morning, 2,500 signatures opposing the governor were collected over the last week and delivered to his office.
“It’s laughable because he has spent the last several months attacking mental health care providers and mental health patients," said Matt Sinovic, the executive director of Progress Iowa.
The governor says the current facilities are outdates and we need a more efficient system.
"Those institutions were built back in the day that we warehoused thousands of people into a warehouse type of situation. We've come a long way from that," said Branstad.
He says he understands vets concerns and is willing to work with them.
"I’m a veteran. I feel very strongly and would want to make sure mental health issues or other issues are treated appropriately by the state ofIowa," said the governor.
"Money can't buy behavior health intervention services. If I wanted to private pay, I can't because he's not on a waiver," said Heidi Pierce ofIowa City.
Pierce spends hundreds of dollars a week for her kid’s treatment. She hopes the governor will think of the future of mental health care in the state.
"If there’s anything that we as a state or a citizen we can do to help those kids, I think it's just the right thing to do," said Pierce.
Des Moines) -- The president of the Veterans National Recovery Center urged Iowans to wear black arm bands Thursday as a silent protest against the reduction of psychiatric beds for Iowa veterans.
Bob Krause tells KMA News Black Arm Band Day is in support of veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder--or PTSD. He says the number of beds dedicated to treating PTSD patients has declined over the past few years.
"We've got 5,000 veterans in Iowa from the 9/11 wars that have PTSD," said Krause, "and we have 10 beds. Five years ago, we had 90 that were dedicated to veterans. There were 60 in Knoxville, there were 20 in Marshalltown, there were 10 in Des Moines. Now, there are 10 in Des Moines, plus we rely on the state institution beds that are available, such as those at Clarinda, Mount Pleasant, Cherokee and Independence."
Krause's comments came as Governor Branstad was scheduled to sign a proclamation at the Statehouse designating May as Mental Health Month. The former legislator says he sees irony in the governor's actions, considering his push to close mental health institutes at Clarinda and Mount Pleasant.
"He's already shut down the beds at Marshalltown--the 20 dedicated beds," he said. "Now he's shutting down the beds at Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. National studies indicate that Iowa should have about 1,500 psychiatric beds. We've got less than 700, and now we're closing the ones in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. We've got no place to send these veterans. We've got a real crisis developing."
Krause says PTSD cannot be treated with drugs.
"There's a part of the brain called the amygdala," said Krause. "And, the shock of that event causes that thing to loop--go into a closed electronic loop in your brain. If it repeats long enough, it will actually scar the amygdala. It's the 'fight or flight syndrome' that is reacted constantly. And so, it makes post traumatic stress disorder victims relate differently to people around them."
A retired colonel with service in the Iowa National Guard and Army Reserve, Krause served in the Iowa House from 1973-to-'79, and is considering a run for the U.S. Senate next year. He made his comments during KMA's 6:40 newscast Thursday morning.
To the editor:
Black armbands are historic signs of silent protest in Iowa dating back to the Vietnam War. In fact, a 1968 landmark Supreme Court case originating in Iowa, concerning the wearing of black armbands in protest, has become a reference point in the fight for First Amendment freedoms.
Today, the Veterans National Recovery Center (VNRC), an Iowa-based 501c3 charity, asked that veterans and those that care about veterans carry on this historic tradition by wearing black arm bands today, May 21. This is in silent protest of Iowa’s refusal to restore 20 active psychiatric beds for PTSD and MST veterans in Iowa, and to prevent a future erosion of psychiatric resources for veterans and others.
At 11 a.m. this morning, Gov. Terry Branstad was to sign a proclamation designating May as Mental Health Month. The public event was at the Iowa State Capitol Rotunda in Des Moines.
Even if veterans were unable to attend this ceremony, the VNRC asks that they wear black armbands today, so that when people ask why, they can tell of the need for more and better psychiatric services for the 5,000 veterans from the Post 9/11 wars that have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Military Sexual Trauma, Traumatic Brain Injury
The closure of 20 dedicated psychiatric beds at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown and the pending closures at Mount Pleasant and Clarinda will impact veterans and others, simply because there are only 10 dedicated psychiatric beds in Iowa for the over 5,000 9/11 veterans in Iowa that have PTSD. We need policy makers to listen and we need to stop the pending closures and restore the beds at Marshalltown.
It is now time for us to speak with the quiet presence of our black armbands.
– Bob Krause, Fairfield, President of the Veterans National Recovery Center
Fairfield, Iowa 52556
Campaign Office Phone: +1 515 6570069
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