UPDATE: Fellow Marine wants to start home for veterans named aft - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Fellow Marine wants to start home for veterans named after Brandon Ketchum

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Friends and family gathered for a visitation in Grant County Wednesday for 33 year-old Brandon Ketchum, the Wisconsin Dells native and Iraq War veteran who took his own life July 8.

27 News first reported on Ketchum's suicide Tuesday night, which his family says came just a day after he asked for, but was denied, in-patient psychiatric care at the Iowa City VA Medical Center.

A fellow Marine who served with Ketchum now wants to honor his memory.

Chris Kemp served two tours of duty in Iraq with Ketchum. He told 27 News the circumstances surrounding his death are incredibly frustrating.

"To see that he went to the VA and they denied him help is just infuriating," said Kemp, who traveled from Texas to Wisconsin for Ketchum's funeral

But Brandon is hardly the first friend from the Marines Kemp has lost to suicide.

"It's a common theme for people that get injured and leave the military," said Kemp. "They can recover physically, but PTSD, unfortunately it's not that well understood."

Before taking his own life, Brandon struggled to handle his own PTSD, while also having to deal with the suicides of so many that were close to him.

"People he either served with, or knew, or had been in treatment with, probably at least ten in the last three years (had committed suicide)," said Kristine Nichols, Brandon's girlfriend of three years.

Those types of statistics are why Kemp now wants to use a 45 acre plot of family land in Texas to help veterans with PTSD.

He wants to establish a non-profit organization there and call it "Ketchum's House."

"I wanted to do something to help, to help the broader issue, but I couldn't think of anything, I couldn't come up with a way," said Kemp. "And then when this happened with Brandon it just...everything clicked together."

Kemp envisions building a retreat where PTSD-affected veterans and their families can get away from the stresses of daily life.

"I want to get families and veterans together in nature, like camping outside where they can get together and talk," said Kemp.

While he believes Brandon would still be alive if the Iowa City VA Medical Center had admitted him last week, Kemp said he and his fellow veterans are also at fault for not doing more to help those with PTSD.
In another development Wednesday, the congressional member who serves Iowa City told 27 News he wants to find out exactly why Brandon wasn't admitted to the psychiatric ward like he requested last Thursday.

"The loss of any veteran to suicide is one too many," wrote Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA-2) in a statement to 27 News. "My thoughts and prayers are with Sgt. Ketchum's family and loved ones and his service to our nation will never be forgotten. My office has been in contact with the VA Medical Center in Iowa City and is working with them to gather all the details."

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