On February 15, Iraq War veteran Richard Miles entered a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, and told the staff: “I need help,” according to hospital records obtained by CNN.
He had told friends he was going to check himself in. He was diagnosed with “worsened PTSD,” anxiety and insomnia, but Miles was not admitted to the hospital.
Five days later the 40-year-old father was found dead in the woods, having taken a toxic amount of sleeping pills, according to a toxicology report obtained by CNN. He died from exposure to the elements.
Now those who loved him want to know why the VA hospital did not admit him when he showed up that night.
“That was his cry for help and it was not taken seriously or received the way it should have been received,” said Katie Hopper, his ex-girlfriend and mother to their daughter Emmalynn.
Miles was one of the premiere presenters at the Science Center of Iowa, a beloved employee popular with the staff and guests.
“He was passionate and knowledgeable about science himself and it went beyond that. His passion extended to sharing that knowledge with others,” said Science Center of Iowa President and CEO Curt Simmons. Miles’ image was featured prominently in YouTube videos and advertisements for the museum; a large photograph bearing his image stands outside the center.
What this popular Iraq war veteran did not share with most, is that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
“He knew the date, and where he was when he had shot and killed people in the war,” says Hopper. “He was very, very aware of what he was doing, that he was ending people’s lives, even if it was for the greater good.” The memory of an interrogation incident with a frail, old Iraqi man upset him quite a bit, she recalled.