Privacy laws are going to prevent a lot of people from talking, but the story of the death of Shannon Shaw, 49, of Waite Park, Minn., may well serve as a reality check on “supporting our troops.”
Shaw, an Army veteran, started swimming across the Mississippi River on Monday fully clothed. He went under halfway across and his body was discovered on Tuesday evening.
The Star Tribune reports Shaw had been trying to get help for post-traumatic stress disorder for 10 years.
He was homeless and was picked up at a convenience store Monday after he climbed into someone’s pontoon boat to sleep. He wanted to go to the Veterans Administration hospital, but the VA said he’d have to be “medically cleared” before they’d take him.
So he was taken to St. Cloud Hospital, evaluated and then discharged, the Strib says. That’s when he headed for the river.
“He was trying to get help, and no one would help him,” his wife tells the newspaper.
Remember that line the next time a politician waves the flag.
“He was trying to get help, and no one would help him.”
Maybe there’s a good reason why a veteran can’t get the help he needs, but the people who could provide it aren’t talking.
Kristi Shaw said her husband was the kind of guy who always stopped to help others. But this week, when he needed help, nobody came to his aid.
“They turned him away,” she said.
Shannon Shaw’s PTSD stemmed from his time in the Army in the military police in Germany in the 1990s, she said. For the past decade, he had tried unsuccessfully to get help from the VA hospital, she said.
“They didn’t have room for him,” she said. “They need to change something about the system. I don’t want any vet, or anybody who needs help, to be turned away. I don’t want someone else to be lost this way.”
VA officials did not reply to requests for interviews.
“These situations are always tough to deal with, and when there are unanswered questions, it is even worse. It’s sad,” a chief deputy sheriff said.
Almost as sad as when people don’t ask the questions.