97. The Homeless Death of Anthony “Sonny” Iovino

Benton Street Bridge Site

Dear Friends:

I have been thinking of Sonny Iovino all day. The picture above is the site where Sonny died. At work tonight I have thought about how this Homeless Vietnam Veteran ended up dying of hypothermia in Iowa City, Iowa.  I get so frustrated at the sheer stupidity of the whole thing. I was thinking there were a lot of police officers involved, sheriff’s deputies at a jail, a psychiatrist at the Veterans Administration Hospital, other doctors, nurses, social workers, shelterers, and local citizens that knew this man and his medical condition. And now he is DEAD?

I have read a news account in the Iowa City Gazette . It is amazing to read that Sonny had five run ins with law enforcement in the first seven days of November. It fails to mention anything about the last 24 hours of Sonny’s life. I wonder why? Is it because it is a discredit to Iowa City, Iowa? Its law enforcement? the Veterans Administration? The Shelter that turned him out? Sonny’s last 24 hours cost him his life and those sworn to protect and save life were there with him at the end of it basically.

What has disturbed me most in reading the follow ups in Iowa City is not only the death of Sonny, but the way they are neatly letting this issue sort of die with him. There is no follow up to this story or question asking going on there in that city. The fact that all involved from doctors, police officers, and anyone else in “authority” professionally are cloaked in anonymity. Why is that if you feel you did right here by Mr. Iovino. From all excerpts I have read, everyone said it is Sonny’s fault. My first thought is “What the hell is wrong with you people there?”

In the Iowa City Press-Citizen they say he “fell through the cracks”. What in the hell? He is dead! Falling through the cracks is like forgetting the milk on the grocery list. There is a big difference in “falling through a crack” and FREEZING TO DEATH because you are a Mentally Ill Homeless Veteran who needed to be detained. What are you thinking out there. I realize that the system is overburdened with mental health issues in jail houses. But I also know that there is protective custody for those that might hurt themselves or others. A naked man on a frosty day might FREEZE TO DEATH.

With the involvement of the VA and law enforcement in this matter, I am surprised that there is not some investigation being initiated. Of course on the other hand I guess for the state and federal public servants in and about IOWA CITY it might be acceptable for Homeless Veterans to perish because of inept handling of situations by them.

I believe a Congressional Investigation into this death is in order as well as an investigation by the state attorney generals office. The Second District of Iowa’s Congressman is Dave Loebsack but he does not have a valid email address outside a contact form and you must have an address in his district for it to work. I have been finding that you cannot contact any congressman anymore, as they have put up zip code firewalls. I recommend though that everyone write to their local congressional representative on this matter and hopefully you are as mad as I am about this issue. I have been emailing the members of the Veterans Affairs Committee using their local office addresses to bypass their address checker.

It is time for accountability of the deaths of Homeless Veterans caused by laziness, hate, and incompetence of those agencies appointed to help and safeguard their living. 

Anthony “Sonny” Iovino was not given the treatment nor respect he deserved.


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5 Responses to “97. The Homeless Death of Anthony “Sonny” Iovino”

  1. December 29, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    I share your rage and frustration. this just shouldn’t have happened. Keep telling the truth and getting the word out.

    Check out her website as she has some interesting articles.


  2. December 29, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    There is an update on this story here:

    It was an awful decision of the VA psychiatrist that ultimately doomed him. Just because a mentally ill man made an “inappropriate remark” the VA sent him away to die, knowing the man was not capable of responding in an appropriate manner.

  3. 3 Lori
    December 29, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    I was livid when I originally read this article and I still am. Why do these people feel like our veterans are disposable? Why is that? Does it have something to do with the fact that most feel our military is and therefore it carries over to when they are a veteran?? Iowa City has a lot of things to answer for but I wonder…doesn’t all cities across this nation have things to answer for? How many homeless veterans have we lost in similar ways and it was never reported? There is a cemetary here in the big ole’ city I live near that is filled with John & Jane Doe’s. How many are veterans?

    I can’t recall hearing anything from our presidential candidates on homeless veterans and what they plan on doing about it. Along with writing your local congressmen, maybe we should all start at the top and work our way down.

    P.S. I have a number for a congressman from our fair state if you would like it. This particular fella works with the congressmans military affairs office. I’ll call on Monday and ask what is being done here in our state. I’m curious to see what they have to say.

  4. May 12, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    I have conducted an in person investigation to this matter and would like to find an attorney to discuss the details of the investigation with.

  5. 5 john devitt
    October 15, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Why indeed, why the police, town, state, vets admin. ?
    why the vfw outreach, American Legion and or any group
    soliciting monies to help vets.
    why did all of the above let ‘Sonny’ and so many, many others ‘ slip thru the cracks ‘. I’m guilty, chased after various and sundry groups, organizations, buracratic agencies, government institutions, fraternal groups, etc.
    called and called, given numbers, other numbers, case folders, call backs, referrals, etc. I was told, by secretaries, hired cronies, interns, and the like ‘ how upset
    the adj general muckety much was at the case I bought to them ‘ and then proceeded to do nada. I got post trumatic
    stress syndrone from the digust and repugnancy that I got
    from talking to these people’s people, the flunkies and paid
    guns who get rid of the riff raff by pshyco babble and posturing, till you get lost / give up, and coward that I am
    quit in utter digust for my fellow human being, this so the
    adj gen can attend a photo op / perk trip / charity ball, etc
    Why indeed,

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