Tomah VA officials brief Johnson staff on vet's care

Posted at 10:25 AM, Sep 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-18 11:25:37-04

   MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Officials at the Tomah VA Medical Center have briefed the staff of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson on the care of a Wisconsin veteran who ended up killing himself.

   Johnson said he wanted answers in the death of 29-year-old U.S. Army veteran Brian Rossell, of Wausau. Rossell's body was found Sept. 8 in Lake Wausau, four days after he went missing. His mother said her son sought help from the Tomah VA this summer but was turned away.
   The Tomah VA briefed Johnson's staff on Friday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. In a statement, Johnson said he appreciated the briefing but added he remains concerned about the circumstances of Rossell's death and will continue to seek information from the VA.
   Tomah VA officials also briefed staff from other members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation.
   While not going into specifics of Rossell's case, a Tomah VA spokesman has said the facility does not turn away eligible veterans for care.
   Johnson chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The Oshkosh Republican has urged the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general to open a new inquiry into the facility. He also has asked the VA to provide a "complete accounting" of interactions between Rossell and the Tomah VA Medical Center.
   The Tomah facility was dubbed "Candy Land" by some veterans for its prescribing practices. Jason Simcakoski, a 35-year-old Marine veteran, died from "mixed drug toxicity" at Tomah in 2014. After a Johnson-led probe, the VA acknowledged failures at the Tomah facility earlier this year and said it was working to prevent similar problems in the future.