Department officials announced the new response rate numbers in a press release that boasted "the challenges with the Veterans Crisis Line have been resolved." In a statement, VA Secretary David Shulkin said fixing the problems "was a critical step in keeping our commitment to veterans."
The IG report also listed concerns about how problems with calls to the crisis line are tracked and reviewed. Last spring, a similar report by the office found at least 23 callers to the crisis line were transferred to voicemail systems instead of reaching emergency help.
In a statement, House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe, R-Tenn., praised the "immediate action" on the issue. His committee is planning hearing on the crisis line on
Suicide prevention has been a major focus of the department in recent years, but outside advocates have questioned whether new programs and funding have resulted in a noticeable decrease in the problem.
In fiscal 2016, the Veterans Crisis Line answered more than 510,000 calls, 53,000 chat requests and 15,000 texts. VA statistics show roughly 20 veterans a day nationwide commit suicide, but only about one-fourth of those are active users of VA services.
To contact the Veteran Crisis Line, callers can dial 1-800-273-8255 and select option 1 for a VA staffer. Veterans, troops or their families members can also text 838255 or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net for assistance.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.