Our veterans deserve far better than this.
Recently, a former VA official for the Veterans Crisis Line revealed that many of our men and women who served are essentially ignored by the very people they call for help. Instead, they’re handed off to roll-over centers where unqualified people are tasked with handling the crisis that vet is having at the time.
As reported by the AP:
More than one-third of calls to a suicide hotline for troubled veterans are not being answered by front-line staffers because of poor work habits and other problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the hotline’s former director.
Some hotline workers handle fewer than five calls per day and leave before their shifts end, even as crisis calls have increased sharply in recent years, said Greg Hughes, the former director of the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line. Hughes said in an internal email that some crisis line staffers “spend very little time on the phone or engaged in assigned productive activity.” Coverage at the crisis line suffers “because we have staff who routinely request to leave early,” he said.
An average of 35 to 40 percent of crisis calls received in May rolled over to back-up centers where workers have less training to deal with veterans’ problems, said Hughes, who left his post in June, weeks after sending the emails.
While this is shocking, few are surprised. The VA has been, time and again, proven to be one of the worst recourses of help for our men and women in arms. The wait times to get help are often horrendous, prompting the VA to try to cover it up by lying about it. Furthermore, the VA Secretary tried to make excuses by comparing it’s wait times to Disney, which Disney shot down immediately, making both the VA and the secretary look very foolish.
To combat this disgusting failure of government, the House unanimously approved a bill that would require the VA to respond to EVERY call, text, or email that comes their way in a timely and swift manner.
Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, the bill’s sponsor, said a veteran in his district told him he repeatedly received a busy signal when he called the crisis line this spring. The man later got help from a friend, but “this hotline let him down,” Young said. “A veteran in need cannot wait for help, and any incident where a veteran has trouble with the Veterans Crisis Line is simply unacceptable.”
What’s sad is that a bill had to be passed to make this happen.