Imagine a military veteran home from deployment and struggling with thoughts of suicide. The veteran calls the VA’s crisis counseling hotline. Instead of hearing the voice of a trained counselor on the other end of the call, the call goes to a backup center. That’s not the worst that can happen – the call might go to voicemail, leaving the veteran helpless.
The VA’s crisis hotline is failing our veterans. Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives. Several families have come forward to say that their loved one tried contacting the VA hotline, but received no assistance and ended their own life.
A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) earlier this year found that over one third of all crisis phone calls went unanswered by the VA and instead were sent to a backup center. 28% of text messages from veterans in crisis never received a response.
A bill in Congress would require the VA to ensure that every single phone call and text message from a struggling veteran is answered in a timely manner. The bill, sponsored by Rep. David Young (R-IA) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) has passed in the House of Representatives and needs to be recommended by a Senate committee to be considered for a vote.
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