Veteran talked to KXLY4 about mental health issues years before suicide
POST FALLS, Idaho — It was a shocking scene outside a large church in Post Falls Sunday as hundreds of worshipers were gathered at Real Life Ministries, when a Gulf War veteran took his own life right outside the church doors.
59-year-old Dale Belieu had suffered from debilitating illness for years and spoke out against the lack of help from the Veteran’s Administration.
Back in the 90s, an Idaho congresswoman tried to help Belieu with his case against the VA.
He said he suffered from Gulf War syndrome and that he wasn’t given the help he needed.
He shared that story with KXLY4 News, and Monday, we found the heartbreaking evidence that Belieu had long struggled to find help.
“I guess I’m not one of those weirded out crazed insane veterans sitting on some park looking wacked out,” said Belieu in a 1999 interview with KXLY. He lived with physical and emotional pain for decades.
“So, they don’t want to deal with it,” he said. “Someone in Congress, the decision makers need to come in line.”
KXLY4 News followed Belieu’s journey in the 1990s, joining him for doctor’s visits, and documenting the rapid decline in his health. He had pain in his joints, memory loss, black outs, and panic attacks.
“I was passing out, blacking out at the steering wheel,” he said.
During the summer of 1999, he was bedridden.
“For about two months, I was so sick, I didn’t know if I was going to live,” he said.
He begged for better care from the Spokane VA and said he was transferred to five different doctors in one year.
“And it’s just like they don’t care.” he said.
At one point, he said he had to wait three months for an appointment only for it to be cancelled. All these years later, it seems Belieu felt he ran out of options.
“We are deeply saddened when we hear about a tragedy about one of the veterans in our community,” said Dr. Quinn Bastain at the Spokane VA.
The Spokane VA said Monday this is not a common occurrence, and they take veteran suicides very seriously.
“Suicide is a complex issue. It’s not a simple decision that somebody makes. There are many factors. Providing mental health to our veterans one of main pieces of work,” said Dr. Bastian.
But, not enough to save Belieu, who 17 years ago began asking for help for this disease.
“It’s sad because we deserve to be taken care of,” said Belieu in a 1999 interview.
The Spokane VA hospital says if you see any veteran or person with suicidal symptoms, tell them to call the Veterans Crisis Hotline.