Bob Krause for US Senate
Bob Krause for US Senate

Veterans Gather to Honor Richard Miles and Call for Change

Remembering Richard Miles

.DES MOINES, Iowa–Iowans are remembering a fallen veteran and in light of his death are calling for change.


Army Veteran Richard Miles was honored Monday evening by fellow veterans and those pushing for change in veteran’s mental health care.

On Monday, Miles was laid to rest and the Veteran’s Cemetery on what would have been his 41st birthday.

“Not everyone who lost their life in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan actually died there. Also, not everyone who came home from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan ever left there. Richard Miles was one of those individuals,” says Former Executive Director for the Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs Pat Palmersheim.

The Veterans National Recovery Center hosted the event and say 22 veterans are committing suicide every day and if more isn’t done there will be more cases like Miles.

“There is no doubt the federal VA needs to do more to assist those veterans who have returned and been diagnosed with PTSD, they need their help and not just more medications,” says Palmersheim.

Miles was found dead in Water Works Park last month.

His family and friends say he suffered from PTSD.

They say he wanted a long-term mental health evaluation at the VA but instead was sent home with a prescription.

“It`s a tragedy that Richard Miles died but he is the exclamation point on the message we`re trying to open these beds up again,” says President of The Veterans National Recovery Center Bob Krause.

Krause says currently there are only 10 psychiatric beds open at the VA.

He’s calling on lawmakers to open up the 20 beds that were closed in Marshalltown and is asking Congress to pass a resolution to open more beds up at the VA in Iowa.

“After every war we’ve needed psychiatric beds but in this war we’ve decided that we`re going to shut them all down right in the middle of the war. It didn’t make any sense but that`s what`s occurred,” says Krause.

Last month Sen. Joni Ernst sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs requesting an examination of the VA’s practices in Central Iowa.

Sen. Ernst’s office said that review began at the beginning of the month and is expected to be complete in the next week or so.

Monday evening, Sen. Ernst also gave her first speech on the U.S. Senate floor. She introduced legislation to prioritize veterans’ mental health care.

“These veterans fought for us and defended us tirelessly, they endured more than most of us can even imagine, the invisible wounds of war can no longer go unnoticed,” says Sen. Ernst.

Sen. Ernst’s bill includes incentives to hire more mental health care professional at VA hospitals. The legislation would also provide immediate non VA care for veterans until they can receive comprehensive treatment at the VA hospital. It also attempts to limit how far a veteran has to travel for care. Sen. Ernst says long distances sometimes prevent veterans from seeking the care they need.


Richard Miles served three tours in Iraq and suffered with post traumatic stress disorder. He was found dead in Waterworks Park in February, just five days after being turned away from the Central Iowa VA Hospital after telling staff, " I need help."

On Monday, the Veterans National Recovery Center hosted a remembrance service for Miles at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. March 23rd is what would have been Miles's 41st birthday. It's also the day of his funeral. Gatherers in Des Moines shed light on post traumatic stress disorder.

"It tells of a real tragedy that's so common in America today that we don't even see it," said Bob Krause, the president of VNRC.

After witnessing what happened to vets in the Vietnam War, they say there needs to be a change.

"I saw many many lives ruined, basically centered around PTSD. I don't want to see that happen to this generation," said Krause.

The VNRC estimates at least 5,000 Iowa vets have PTSD from the most recent war. After budget cuts and lack of suffer, they say there are not enough mental health facilities to help.

"We must get more psych beds for veterans. The VA needs to do more as this is just part of the cost of war," said Pat Palmersheim, with Wreaths Across America.

"It's a very irregular disease, but you got to have beds for these people when they're off the rails, and we don't have these beds cause they closed them all," said Krause.

The VNRC says they're not blaming the VA for Miles's death. Instead, they are asking for a change with the system of vets psychiatric care.
They're urging others to take a stance and to contact legislators for change.
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