Friends Question If Veteran’s Death Could Have Been Prevented

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DES MOINES, Iowa --Family, friends and colleagues are mourning the death Richard Miles but they also question whether his death would have been prevented.

On Friday, police discovered the 41 - year - old's body partially frozen in Water Works Park. Authorities say his death is not considered suspicious but according to his friends, Miles was suffering from issues that likely led to him taking his own life.

Miles was in the Army and deployed to the Middle East three times. Friends say he was proud to serve in the military and claimed it only had positive effects on him. However, Harry Aller realizes his friend may have been quietly dealing with severe depression for years.

"According to a text from him a week and a half ago, Richard was looking to spend sometime in the hospital to work things out. That was the last time I spoke to him," says Allers.

Miles visited the V.A. Hospital numerous times and was treated with medication but he wanted long term hospitalization and evaluation. Allers says, "He [ Miles] did seek out that help and went through the appropriate channels he knew to follow, unfortunately it's our belief he was let down with the assistance he was given which potentially led us to where we are today."

Police reports show Miles disappeared at the beginning of the month but ended up returning home last week to seek help. Friends say when he did not get the help he was looking for, he disappeared again. A short time later, police found Miles dead.

"Ultimately, Richard made his decision but I think the decision should have been easier for him to give him a different option," say Aller.

He plans to meet with leaders at the VA hospital to discuss accessible mental illness heath care.

In the midst of his struggle, Miles, was a familiar face the Science Center of Iowa. He developed and presented astronomy exhibits.

Science Center of Iowa, President and CEO, Curt Simmons, remembers Miles as joyful, curious and highly valued employee. Miles began working at the science center in college.

"He was a great presenter he helps take complex science ideas and not just make them understandable but make them fun," he says. "He just had this youthful exuberance about learning and he loved sharing that with folks."


  • Gib Pleh

    He froze to death because he was a Veteran? I wear cold weather gear and haven’t froze yet. Well, I did get frost bite once but it wasn’t due to being a Veteran.

  • litsyou

    What does it matter if he had some depression before the Military, not to mention that being deployed several times I’m sure added to his depression. Point is he was searching for help and did not get it. It’s such a tragic situation and is very disgraceful that our government does not do more for Veterans. We owe him and all Veterans so much!

  • jack bauer

    Richard was an extremely nice person who was loved by the kids and parents who attended his workshops that he presented at the science center. He put his whole heart into his presentation and interactions with the kids. I can’t believe that apparently there was nothing in the news or that the science center put out that he was ever missing. He was known/recognized by thousands; perhaps someone would have spotted him / found him before he died if anyone knew he was missing. I watch the news a lot and don’t remember seeing anything about him missing. A look at the science center’s website and facebook page don’t even acknowledge that Richard has passed away. He deserves much better from everybody. Too bad the medical world did not help him more than they did. What a shame on everybody.

    • Linda

      Jack: What a good comment you just posted. You covered the main points so perfectly and sensitively. It is truly tragic that there was no “missing persons” report–people could have been out looking for him. Also, I so agree with your disappointment in the Science Center’s lack of compassion by not honoring Richard–not even mentioning him on their Facebook page. Maybe someone from there will read your comment and realize their omission. May God rest his troubled soul! I’m sure Richard is finally totally free from his demons, and gazing joyfully on the Face of God!

  • Brad

    We hold nothing but respect and very kind thoughts toward Richard. He taught Tae Kwon Do for Two Rivers in Carlisle a few years ago. He was a very patient and helpful instructor, and really loved teaching. We are so very sorry to hear what happened to him.

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