The apparent suicide of a Wausau veteran is prompting renewed calls for oversight at the Tomah VA Medical Center.
In a Sept. 9 letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) called for the VA to provide a “complete accounting” of Brian Rossell’s interactions with the Tomah facility. Rossell, 29, suffered from schizoaffective disorder, post-traumatic stre
ss, paranoia and other mental issues, according to police. His body was discovered Sept. 8 in Lake Wausau.
Rossell’s suicide “underscores concerns that the VA has yet to take full ownership of the systemic failures of the Tomah VAMC,” Johnson says.
Johnson’s concerns are the latest in a string of problems for the facility, which is also the target of a wrongful death lawsuit by the family of a Stevens Point veteran. Jason Simcakoski died in Aug. 2014 while undergoing treatment at the center, and the VA’s inspector general last year ruled that deficiencies in care led to his death.
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Rossell’s mother, Deborah Tyree of Wetumpka, Ala., says her son sought help from the Tomah VA for his mental illness but was turned away “like a piece of garbage.”
“I will prevail and help the vets out there so there doesn’t have to be another one like Brian,” Tyree said, in a video on her Facebook page. “What happened? I’m hoping whoever gets in office can help change this so other veterans can get help.”