UNACCEPTABLE: One-third of calls to the VA Suicide Hotline go unanswered

As a veteran myself, as was my father before me, one thing that you would hope to have when you put life and limb on the line is that your country will take care of you.  No, we don’t expect ticket tape parades or even a thankful populace; Vietnam dissuaded us of any notions of that.  We may not always agree with the need or the rationale of where we go to fight but we do so because our country asks it of us.

One would think, would hope, would expect that this country would pick up the damn phone when a veteran made a call asking for help when they find themselves on the precipice of making a terrible choice.

Alas, our thoughts are wrong, our hopes dashed and our expectations unwarranted.

As our friends as ConservativeFiringLine.com report, nearly one third of all calls to the VA suicide hotline go unanswered.  From their report:

In February of this year, the VA Inspector General report found that some veterans who were in desperate need of help called the VA Suicide Hotline only to find that their calls went to voicemail or never received immediate action.

A new news report from Katie Pavlich of Town Hall, found that PBS reported that up to a third of all veteran calls to the suicide hotline go unanswered due to VA employees leaving early.

An internal email from Greg Hughes, the former director of the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line, stated that some workers handle fewer than five calls per day and leave before their shifts end, even as crisis calls have increased sharply in recent years.

Hughes also stated, “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.”

In the February report, the IG stated that on May 8, 2014, a complainant contacted the OIG hotline concerning the responsiveness and quality of the care provided by the VCL.

Specifically the complainant alleged that:

  • Calls to the VCL were directed to voicemail and/or went unanswered.
  • Staff at the VCL did not provide immediate assistance to veterans calling the VCL and, at times, told veterans to contact a local VHA facility.
  • Local resources, specifically an ambulance called to assist a veteran, did not arrive for 3 hours.
  • Staff who answered calls to the VCL were not properly trained to meet the needs of callers or to marshal the resources needed to meet crises.
  • Veterans who needed to call the VCL during a crisis could have difficulty locating the corresponding numbers to dial when utilizing the VCL telephone number displayed on business cards and other communication—273-TALK.

The VA numbers of how many veterans commit suicide stands at about 20 suicides per day. Researchers found that the risk of suicide for veterans is 21 percent higher when compared to civilian adults. From 2001 to 2014, as the civilian suicide rate rose about 23.3 percent, the rate of suicide among veterans jumped more than 32 percent.

You can read the entire article here: ConservativeFiringLine – Calls go unanswered

I emboldened the lines that really stuck with me.  These people are LEAVING EARLY!???!

Not only should they be fired immediately they should be publicly shamed, and if I had my way beaten for being complicit in the deaths of numerous veterans who, in their last grasp for hope called them for help and were left flapping in the wind.

Now, with the current state of VA hospitals and the VA hotline and the general disregard that Obama has shown the military, it is not surprising that this administration doesn’t give a damn about the men and women of the military.  The next administration had best do a better job, lest they find a military unwilling to fight for it.

We can do better for our service members and veterans…we MUST do better.


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