|Feb 5, 10:58 AM EST
Family disputes records showing Marine didn't talk of suicide
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Marine veteran Jonathan Schulze didn't tell officials at the Veterans Medical Center in St. Cloud
that he was thinking of killing himself, according to VA records Schulze's family provided to the Star Tribune. But
Schulze's father and stepmother say those records are inaccurate.
Jim and Marianne Schulze say they heard their 25-year-old son tell hospital staff members on two occasions that he
was suicidal. Jonathan Schulze, of New Prague, killed himself Jan. 16.
"The most disturbing part for me is their denial of Jon's suicidal condition," said Jim Schulze, who has read nearly 400
pages of records, mostly from counseling his son received at the Minneapolis Veterans Medical Center after he
returned from Iraq in 2004.
The Schulzes say the records indicate Jonathan still seemed to be fighting the war internally, even after he returned
Veterans Administration officials in Minnesota can't comment on the records or on any dealings with Jonathan Schulze,
said Joan Vincent, the VA's public affairs officer in St. Cloud.
"We need to maintain the privacy of this veteran," she said Friday.
The case is being investigated by a medical inspector and a clinical psychologist from the U.S. Department of Veterans
Affairs. Matt Burns, a spokesman in Washington, said the findings will be shared with members of Congress and with
directors of the Minneapolis and St. Cloud hospitals.
Jim Schulze, of Stewart, obtained his son's records through the Minneapolis VA office and shared some of them with
Four pages deal with two conversations Jonathan Schulze had with staff at the St. Cloud facility. A Jan. 11 document
shows Schulze came to St. Cloud to ask for screening for chemical dependency treatment and was referred to a
clinical social worker.
Jim and Marianne Schulze said the record doesn't mention that Jonathan told a staff member he was suicidal and
asked to be admitted.
A document from Jan. 12 indicated Schulze spoke with a counselor over the phone and was asked about suicide.
Under the category, "Having/had suicidal ideation/attempts," the counselor wrote: "no/no." Ideation is a clinical term
referring to thoughts or inclinations.
Marianne Schulze said she heard Jonathan tell the counselor he felt suicidal. She said Jonathan hung up the phone
and told her that he was No. 26 on a waiting list.
However, officials at both Minnesota hospitals said their acute psychiatric care units do not have waiting lists. In
addition, VA policy says local police would be contacted to check on any veteran who talks about suicide.
A separate mental-health unit with beds at the St. Cloud veterans hospital had a waiting list of 21 veterans on Jan. 29,
the VA's Vincent said. That unit, known as residential treatment, is more for ongoing cases, not for acute care.
The records from St. Cloud show that Schulze told the counselor questioning him over the phone that he was
diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"My life has been falling apart since I returned from Iraq," Schulze said in the record.
He also was taking medication for "excruciating pain every day," which he said resulted from carrying heavy military
gear including, his father said, a 120-pound machine gun. Under "personal strengths," Schulze replied: "Big heart."
Jim and Marianne Schulze said the records from the Minneapolis veterans hospital suggest suicidal inclinations.
In one record from Feb. 16, 2006, Schulze "stated that something will set him off (e.g., seeing a person of Middle
Eastern descent) and he will start shaking and feel extremely upset. On a daily basis, his temper will lead him to punch
windows and holes in walls. ... The veteran further reported that several times per day he will experience
uncontrollable episodes of extreme anxiety that are triggered by military reminders."
Schulze told counselors he heard "intrusive military-related sounds" and had flashbacks of combat images.
Jim Schulze, who served in Vietnam, wants to help other veterans.
"The physical wounds will heal the best they can," he said. "The psychological wounds never will."
Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com
© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or
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|Young Marine Dies Of PTSD - And Neglect
Jonathan Schulze was a United States Marine.
He died earlier this month at the age of 25 -- not in Iraq, but back home, in Minnesota.
He died of wounds received during his seven-month tour of duty in Iraq, wounds different from the ones that earned
Schulze two purple hearts. This young man died of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, of wounds to the soul and not the
flesh. He died because the government that was there to send him far away to fight in 2004 wasn't there for him when he
Schulze had a harrowing time in Iraq, spending time in the heated battles of Ramadi in April, 2004. While he was there,
35 Marines in his unit were killed, including 17 of them in just 48 hours of combat.
The young Marine was wounded twice in battle but returned home to rebuild his life and to cope with the things he had
seen, things he had done and friends he had lost. But, by the time he was discharged from the Marines in late 2005, he
was deeply troubled with images of combat and violence that he could not get out of his mind.
According to Minnesota press reports, Schulze went to the Veterans Administration (VA) center in Minneapolis on
December 14, 2006, met with a psychiatrist and was told that he could only be admitted for treatment four months later,
On January 11, 2007, accompanied by his parents, he went to the VA hospital in St. Cloud, Minnesota and told people at
that VA facility that he was thinking of killing himself. They told Schulze that they could not admit him as a patient and
sent him on his way.
The next day, January 12, Schulze called the VA, reiterating that he was feeling suicidal. He was told that he was number
26 on the waiting list.
A man who had risked his life in Iraq and done everything that was asked of him by the United States government, was
told by that same government that his sacrifice would be repaid by being 26th on a list of Veterans similarly crying out for
"Jonathan wanted help so bad," said Marianne Schulze, Jonathan's stepmother. "At the end of the conversation,
Jonathan got off the phone so distressed."
On January 16, Schulze called his family and told them that he was going to do it -- he was going to kill himself. His family
called the local police, who raced to his house, kicked in his door and found him hanging from an electrical cord.
Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.
Having read about Schulze while on a trip to Minnesota, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) brought the story to the floor of
the Senate and read it into the record on Monday.
"The story is nearly unbelievable to me," said Dorgan in a speech on the Senate floor. "The newspaper description of the
flag-draped coffin of this young marine who earned two Purple Hearts fighting for his country in Iraq contains a sad, sad
story of a young marine who should have gotten medical help for serious psychological problems that were the result of
his wartime experience."
The Marine's family says that he couldn't sleep, would have nightmares reliving the combat he had experienced and
suffered from vivid flashbacks when awake.
“He was a delayed casualty of the Iraq war,” his father, Jim Schulze, a Vietnam Veteran, said of Jonathan.
Jonathan Schulze, who leaves behind his fianceé, a 6-month-old daughter and who had another baby on the way, was a
machine gunner who wrote often to his parents about what he was experiencing in Iraq, the firefights, the bombings and
dismembered bodies blown apart by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
“I pray so much over here and ask God to keep me out of harm’s way and to make it back home alive and in one piece,”
he wrote to his parents in 2004. “I bet I easily pray over a dozen times a day and I always pray while I am on patrol as I
am terrified of getting hit by an IED aka a bomb. Our vehicle elements and Marines on patrols are getting hit hard by
these bombs the Iraqis plant all over and hide on the ground.”
He survived all of that only to come home and find neglect, the results of an administration big on tax cuts for the wealthy,
but not real strong on taking care of Veterans returning home from the war created by the George W. Bush and, until this
month, left unchecked by the do-nothing Republican Congress.
As is often the case when things like this happen, the VA is citing privacy laws and won’t talk about the Schulze family’s
account of what happened to Jonathan or issue any comment at all.
But Senator Dorgan says he's going to press for answers.
"I am going to ask the inspector general to investigate what happened in this case," said Dorgan on the Senate floor.
"What happened that a young man who was a marine veteran with two Purple Hearts turns up at a VA center and says: I
am thinking of committing suicide, can you help me, can you admit me, and he is told: No, the list is 26 long in front of
"Are there others who show up at a VA center and say: I need help, only to be told no help is available? I hope that is not
the case. It is the unbelievable cost of war."
posted by Bob Geiger at 1/31/2007 09:42:00 AM
|Jan 28, 2007 1:51 pm US/Central
Marine's Suicide Marked The End Of One Man's War
Sue Turner Reporting
(WCCO) Stewart, Minn. A Minnesota family is speaking out about a side of war that rarely gets mentioned, suicide.
Former U.S. Marine Jonathan Schulze committed suicide last week. A Purple Heart recipient, he became overwhelmed
by grief after seeing several of his friends killed in Iraq.
During the seven months Schulze was in Iraq, 35 Marines in his unit died -- 17 of them in just two days. Schulze was
injured twice and he was awarded two Purple Hearts as a result. But as the months at home wore on, he had more and
more trouble coping.
"The hardest thing he had to do over there was loose his buddies," said Jim Schulze, Jonathan Schulze's father.
A government report issued in December 2006 said one of every 5,000 military personnel who served in Iraq has
committed suicide -- an increase of one percent compared to the prior two years.
Yet the same report stated soldiers have better access to behavioral health care -- a claim Schulze's parents clearly
It is estimated that about 17 percent of military personnel returning from Iraq suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder
or severe anxiety and depression. That's compared to about 6 or 7 percent of the general population.
The father of a six-month old child, Jim and Marianne Schulze remembered their 25-year-old son as a bubbly, fun
loving person. But, when he came home from Iraq almost two years ago, his personality had changed.
"What the guys over there were going through were comparable to what the guys who went through Vietnam
encountered," said Jim Schulze, who served two tours of duty in Vietnam.
In a father-son conversation, the younger Schulze confided that he couldn't understand who so many of his fellow
Marines were killed in Iraq, but he somehow was spared.
Schulze's own personal war raging within him brought him to the Veterans Administration Hospital in St. Cloud, Minn.,
where he was reportedly told the wait for psychiatric services was shorter than at the VA facility in Minneapolis.
On Jan. 11, Schulze reportedly told a member of the medical staff that his inner torment made him contemplate
suicide. However, he was turned away because there was no room at the hospital's psychiatric unit.
One day later, a counselor told Schulze by phone that his case was 26th on the waiting list at a facility with only 15
beds. The earliest he could be seen at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis was March.
"Jonathan wanted help so bad. At the end of the conversation, Jonathan got off the phone so distressed," said
Marianne Schulze, Jonathan Schulze's stepmother.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Veterans Administration said, "We'd like to express our sincere condolences to
the family. Whenever something like this happens it affects all of us at VA." However, be added that, because of
privacy laws, the agency was not free to address specifics of Schulze's case.
"How [can] the United States government give aid to foreign countries, but yet can't adequately fund medical and
psychological needs of the boys they send off to war," asked Jim Schulze.
"Your sons and daughters are not gonna be the same," he said.
(© MMVII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
When Jonathan Schulze came home from Iraq, he tried to live a normal life.
But the war kept that from happening.
By Kevin Giles, Star Tribune
Last update: January 29, 2007 – 4:54 PM
At first, Jonathan Schulze tried to live with the nightmares and the grief he brought
home from Iraq. He was a tough kid from central Minnesota, and more than that, a
U.S. Marine to the core. Yet his moods when he returned home told another story.
He sobbed on his parents' couch as he told them how fellow Marines had died, and
how he, a machine gunner, had killed the enemy. In his sleep, he screamed the
names of dead comrades. He had visited a psychiatrist at the VA hospital in
Two weeks ago, Schulze went to the VA hospital in St. Cloud. He told a staff member he was thinking of
killing himself, and asked to be admitted to the mental health unit, said his father and stepmother, who
accompanied him. They said he was told he couldn't be admitted that day. The next day, as he spoke to a
counselor in St. Cloud by phone, he was told he was No. 26 on the waiting list, his parents said.
Four days later, Schulze, 25, committed suicide in his New Prague home.
Citing privacy laws, Veterans Affairs officials wouldn't comment specifically on the case, nor would they confirm or deny
the Schulze family's account. However, Dr. Sherrie Herendeen, line director for mental health services at the St. Cloud
hospital, said Thursday that under VA policy, a veteran talking about suicide would immediately be escorted into the
hospital's locked mental health unit for treatment.
She also said that after hearing of Schulze's death, the hospital is doing an internal review of its procedures.
Schulze's father and stepmother, Jim and Marianne Schulze of rural Stewart, Minn., say their son would be
alive today if the VA had acted on his pleas for admittance. They say they heard him tell VA staff in St. Cloud
that he felt suicidal -- in person on Jan. 11 at the hospital, and over the phone on Jan. 12.
On the evening of Jan. 16, Schulze called family and friends to tell them that he was preparing to kill himself. They
called New Prague police, who smashed in the door and found him hanging from an electrical cord. Police attempted to
resuscitate him, but it was too late.
Schulze's family doctor in Stewart, a farming crossroads in McLeod County, said he was convinced that Schulze
suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, a disabling mental condition that can result from military combat.
"Jonathan was a classic," said Dr. William Phillips, who said he first examined Schulze in October 2004 when Schulze
was home on leave from Marine duty.
The doctor also asked Schulze to seek counseling at Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base in California where he
was assigned. Phillips said he was unable to learn whether Schulze had done so.
"We don't have a system for this," Phillips said this week. "The VA is overwhelmed, and we're rural doctors out here
trying to deal with this. Unfortunately, we're going to see a lot of Jonathans."
Maj. Cynthia Rasmussen, the combat stress officer for the 88th Regional Readiness Command at Fort Snelling, said
veterans returning to Minnesota who have problems often don't seek help until their civilian lives begin to fall apart.
"Soldiers think if they go to get help that they're going to be seen as weak, but they also think their command won't
have faith in them," she said.
Rasmussen said reasons for mental illness among returning veterans are many and complex, but often relate to
personality changes that service members must make while in uniform -- and especially in combat zones -- and then
try to readjust to civilian life.
After Schulze left the Marines in late 2005, he continued to have aching memories of combat.
"When he got back from Iraq he was mentally scattered," said his older brother Travis, who also served there with the
Much of Jonathan Schulze's anguish seemed to relate to combat in Ramadi in April 2004. Schulze, who carried a
heavy machine gun, wrote his parents that 16 Marines, many of them close friends, had died in two afternoons of
firefights and bombings. Twice he was wounded but didn't tell his parents, not wanting them to worry. He wrote them
about dismembered bodies. About youth and combat and disillusionment. And about the bombs.
"I pray so much over here and ask God to keep me out of harm's way and to make it back home alive and in one
piece," he wrote Jim and Marianne in May 2004. "I bet I easily pray over a dozen times a day and I always pray while I
am on patrol as I am terrified of getting hit by an IED aka a bomb. Our vehicle elements and Marines on patrols are
getting hit hard by these bombs the Iraqis plant all over and hide on the ground."
Schulze carried guilt that fellow Marines died. He wanted to return to Iraq to somehow redeem himself, said his father,
who did three tours of duty in Vietnam.
Because of that, Schulze at first resisted counseling, Jim Schulze said: "Being a Marine, he was too proud to get help.
They want to make you impervious of any emotion. And when you get out it's almost impossible to put it back the way it
When Schulze left the Marine Corps, he participated in military color guards, visited aging veterans in the state homes,
helped anyone in need. He worked with his stepfather building houses. An unmarried father, Schulze bragged of
adoration for his young daughter, Kaley Marie, on his MySpace website.
But the war always got in the way of a normal life.
Schulze was on an emotional roller coaster and couldn't get off, said his close Marine friend from Iraq, Eric
Satersmoen, who with Schulze's stepbrothers described him as becoming uncharacteristically quiet.
"Lot of inner turmoil, lot of flashbacks, lot of nightmares," was how Jim Schulze described his son.
The Jan. 11 visit to the VA in St. Cloud came a few weeks after Jonathan Schulze waited for more than three hours at
the VA hospital in Minneapolis, hoping to be admitted, Jim Schulze said. His son last saw a psychiatrist at the
Minneapolis VA on Dec. 14 but someone there told him he couldn't be admitted for treatment until March, Jim Schulze
said. They went to St. Cloud with the expectation that Jonathan could be admitted quicker.
Satersmoen and Travis Schulze think that Jonathan Schulze didn't intend to kill himself. They said that he was drunk
and confused and speculate that he unintentionally blacked out before police arrived.
Secondary causes of death, said the Minnesota Regional Coroner's Office in Hastings, were post-traumatic stress
disorder and acute and chronic alcoholism.
At the funeral in Prior Lake, Schulze lay in his Marine dress blues, two Purple Hearts and his other medals pinned to
his tunic. Dozens of young men -- fellow Marines -- gathered in groups to tell stories. They called him Jonny. He was
funny, they said. The life of the party.
Cold wind ripped across the cemetery in Stewart where he was buried. Veterans from the Hutchinson, Minn., VFW fired
a three-volley salute. Travis Schulze, dressed in black, and Satersmoen, wearing Marine dress blues, removed the flag
from the casket and folded it. Travis Schulze presented the flag to his father. And saluted him.
"He was a delayed casualty of the Iraq war," Jim Schulze said of Jonathan.
Kevin Giles • 612-673-7707 • firstname.lastname@example.org