ST. CLOUD, Minn. — A military veteran who drowned in the Mississippi River after being rejected for treatment at a veterans' facility and instead visited a hospital emergency room had struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder since he served with the U.S. Army in the 1990s, his wife said.
Witnesses told police that they saw 49-year-old Shannon Shaw wade into the massive waterway at St. Cloud, Minnesota, fully dressed on Monday afternoon. He started to swim and they said they lost sight of him when he was about halfway across. The witnesses dialed 911.
Authorities searched the river for Shaw and divers found his body Tuesday evening.
Shaw's wife, Kristi Shaw, told The Star Tribune that he had struggled with PTSD since he served with the military police in Germany in the 1990s. She said he struggled to find adequate help, including from the VA hospital system.
"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 declined the newspaper's request for comment.
On the day Shaw was last seen alive, police officers had picked him up at a convenience store in the city in the morning. Chief Deputy Jon Lentz said Shaw told them he was homeless and asked to be taken to the St. Cloud VA Health Care System hospital. The veterans' facility said he needed to be medically cleared before they could admit him, so deputies took Shaw to St. Cloud Hospital instead. There he was evaluated in the emergency room before being discharged.
Less than an hour later, Shaw waded into the Mississippi.
The hospital refused to disclose what treatment he received.