Re: Hank Brandon Lee
On March 4, 2017, Marine Corps combat veteran Hank Brandon Lee, who fought in Afghanistan, died while in the care of the very people who were supposed to “prevent him from hurting himself or others.” (Mental Health Guidelines) After ten years of ineffective treatment by the VA system, Hank finally succumbed to his PTS(D) and TBI by what has been presented as an “accidental” drug overdose.
The problem with Hank’s death is that he was admitted to the Acute Inpatient Psychiatric Unit at the Brockton Campus, Boston VA, (also known as the psychiatric unit, or ‘psych ward’) four weeks prior to his death. While in “lock down” he was under constant supervision, evaluation, monitoring (every 15 minutes), and pharmacological treatment by the mental health services team. Yet, Hank Lee’s autopsy and toxicology report state that his death was an accidental overdose (with a sub-context that his death was a combination of VA prescribed drugs and a drug that the VA states it did not prescribe). Not only did the VA state they did NOT prescribe that drug, but there is no explanation as to how Hank Lee could have possibly received it as he had no visitors while in the psychiatric unit. The drug in question is Fentanyl making it seem that the opioid epidemic has somehow breached the walls of a lock down medical facility overseen by the VA.
The back story of this situation is that after 10 years of debatable over-medication, a young man was taken from us before his time when he had every right to expect a long life with his family and children. Over-medication tends to lead to limited functionality, a reduced capacity to make rational decisions, and – in Hank’s case – multiple lock downs, the combination of which led to his untimely death.
While we intend to determine what happened, why it happened, and who is accountable, our most important mission is to ensure that future Hank Lees are treated with the respect and care that they deserve. Not only deserve, but have earned…
Our campaign is going to show the ineffectiveness of the VA system when it comes to treating combat veterans who struggle with PTS(D) and transition challenges and to clearly show how ineffective their benefits process is when people need financial support the most.
Any treatment, for any ailment, disorder, or disease that goes unchanged for 10+ years is clearly not working and is unlikely to work in the following ten years. Thousands of veterans receive help via alternative treatment modalities in addition to pharmacological support, or they opt to replace pharmacological support with counseling and therapy, as well as other more holistic treatment options. But rarely does a veteran succeed in life on medication alone. Ironically there are thousands of organizations who are begging for the chance to help these veterans BEFORE it is too late
1. To ensure that veterans who ask for support have access to, and information about, third party support solutions and treatment modalities.
2. To ensure that the approval process to be moved from “lock down” to inpatient treatment facilities are moved forward with a sense of urgency.
3. To ensure that every veteran who is placed in a lock down facility is fitted with a life signs monitor so that alerts can be received by staff should there be a change in their vital signs.
4. To ensure that there is an exit plan for every veteran who is placed in a 72-hour lockdown facility.
5. To ensure that when veterans die in VA care, that trained personnel are assigned with the necessary approvals to sign off on all benefits from burial to future DIC benefits.
No one should have to cope with what Hank’s widow, Jamie Lee, and her children have been through for the past six months. For 10 years she fought to get her husband the care he needed, and she has seen firsthand the VA’s revolving door treatment process. Evaluation, cocktail of drugs, lock down, out of lock down, back to the VA, more drugs, back to lockdown, change of drugs, back to the VA, more drugs and – in Hank’s case – a FINAL LOCK DOWN. Jamie Lee had every right to expect that her husband would be safe and cared for in a professionally managed psychological facility. It didn’t happen.
Rick J. Collins
Founder of Veterans 360 Inc.
Jamie, Alana, Hailey
and Hunter Lee
Widow and orphans of Hank Lee