Valley family shines spotlight on veteran's suicide

The family of a Valley veteran who took his own life waiting for care at the Phoenix VA Hospital is spotlighting the issue of suicide.

Two tours in Iraq left Daniel Somers with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD.  

He waited three months before finally getting an initial appointment at the Phoenix VA.

His VA psychiatrist eventually left so Somers registered to see a new doctor. That was in 2008, by 2013 his parents say he still never got a response and Somers took his own life in the summer of 2013.

"People are finally realizing that what he had to say has a lot of value,” said Daniel’s father, Howard Somers.

His parents are now continuing the fight for better care at the VA in their son’s memory.

"This is now America’s battle to get veterans the care they need," said his mother Jean.

Whistleblower Doctor Katherine Mitchell says issues like Daniel’s are the very basis of what first caused her to come forward. 

"The handling of suicides and lack of resources for the suicide team was atrocious," said Dr. Mitchell.

She saw an alarming trend happening at the Phoenix VA Hospital.

"Characteristics that were so common you would think the facility would make a concerted effort to address those types of characteristics with services so other veterans would be less likely to commit suicide."

But Dr. Mitchell says the only response she got to her complaints to the Office of the Inspector General was a reprimand for disclosing patient information in her complaint.

She’s hopeful the full OIG report in August delves more into the problems of mental health care within the Phoenix VA.

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