It’s a Busy Signal for Veteran’s in Crisis

Between 20 and 22 Veterans take their own lives every day.  (Photo: Public Domain)

Between 20 and 22 Veterans take their own lives every day.
(Photo: Public Domain)

September 27, 2016

By Lorra B.

The Veterans Suicide Hotline, opened in 2007, has been plagued with issues and been in the headlines for the past few years. Poor staff working habits, long wait times, busy signals and troubled veterans being put on hold being just a few of the problems.

The former director of the VA’s Veteran Crisis Line, Greg Hughes, stated that less than five calls a day are being taken by many of the hotline workers and that they leave before their shifts are even over.

In an internal email, Hughes stated that some of the staffers actually “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.”

Perhaps saying ‘No’ to requests to leave early had never occurred to the director.

Hughes resigned on June 17. He stated, “If we continue to roll over calls because we have staff that are not making an honest effort, then we are failing at our mission.”

This has been an issue for a very long time. The VA’s office of inspector general stated that approximately 1 out of every 6 calls from veterans are rolling over to other crisis centers who do not have as much training when dealing with issues of suicide. Calls would then roll over to voicemail.

Many of the hot-line staffers had no idea there was even a voicemail system. How is this possible?

This is unacceptable by any standards.

To ensure that the VA crisis line answers all calls, text messages and other communications in a timely manner, on Monday a bill was unanimously approved by the House requiring just that.

“A veteran in need cannot wait for help, and any incident where a veteran has trouble with the Veterans Crisis Line is simply unacceptable,” stated the bill’s backer, Rep. David Young, R-Iowa.

According to AP, “The VA said Monday it is increasing staff at the New York-based hotline and opening a new hub in Atlanta.” AP went on to report, “The agency also pledged to continue efforts to improve training, as it responds to a report by an internal watchdog that said crisis calls are routinely allowed to go into voicemail and callers do not always receive immediate assistance.”

Last year alone over 500,000 calls to the crisis line were received, “50 times the number it received in 2007, the hotline’s first year of operation.”

Between 20 and 22 veterans decide to take their own lives every day. They are hurting and reaching out to a system that isn’t currently working.

With determination and hard work this system can be fixed.

It is in your hands now, Senate Representatives. The bill is waiting your approval.

The toll-free hotline number is 800-273-8255

 

By Lorra B.

24 thoughts on “It’s a Busy Signal for Veteran’s in Crisis

  1. YOU hit that one out of the park Dr. Here’s my addition and it comes from someone who understands the VA system quite well. While attempting to get two different oncologists at two different centers signed up to do a clinical trial, I was informed they were blackballed by the F.D.A. from conducting clinical trials.

    Hum….black balled by the FDA yet treating our veterans? That just doesn’t cut it.

    Mr. Trump “Tear Down Those Walls.”

    No, not walls between a divided country but the walls of every VA Hospital in the U.S. and other countries where they may be located.

    This site has repeatedly called for the destruction of the entire VA system with the land and buildings being sold for the highest and best use..

    Posted it on my site as well…https://whatyouthoughtiwentaway.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/va-system-suicide-hotline-please-wait-while-we-put-you-on-hold/ Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great to have you back.
    Dealing with numbers, 20 to 22 veteran suicides a day is 7,300 to 8,030 a year out of how many veterans? Compare the percentage to 11,000 (the number of gun-related felonious homicides) out of 320,000,000. I think I something might be wrong with our priorities. Not all the 33,000 reported gun deaths are homicides. Veterans are the part of our society protecting us from enemies In other countries, yet those promoting gun confiscation make up a large part of those promoting mass immigration of unvetted haters of America.
    Hope your medics treated you well.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Not to be Debbie Downer, but maybe we should stop having faith in the government to do something (which they should). I really don’t look to ever have this change. Perhaps instead have our churches could get together and come up with something now? Maybe we could hire crisis professionals while offering spiritual support for those troubled by the past. HE helps those all those who seek Him, no matter what the demons are that are chasing us. Let’s open our doors to those in need and go from there. Just my two cents.
    So glad you’re back! Hope your day is blessed Lorra.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ahhhh! Thanks Sparky! It’s good to be back. 🙂

      I agree that we need to have other avenues for our veterans, and there are,though not enough sadly. The liability for churches trying to take on mental health issues of this magnitude may be enormous, not to mention having to staff qualified individuals to handle the call load. Now, if the government would give grants to do just that then we may have something here!

      The church I attend does have qualified individuals to take on the every day citizen with issues but this is a different creature altogether. Hmmmmm. Great comment and thought provoking for sure!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Not being a Debbie Downer, … that you are not. I am a certified Christian Counselor and in my two pastorates I was used by the district court in my area to do domestic abuse counseling through the social services agency, for court mandated therapy , and offered crisis counseling to the community as a ministry of our church, and in it all there was a great liability factor to the church, we never had to use it but the factor still existed. The grants from the government will not work, because of the non-existent “separation of church and state clause” of the 1st Amendment; and it is prohibitive in cost for most churches to set up a private counseling practice. I will check with the SBC to see if they have any outreach ministry set up as a private practice. I doubt it. I also was the pastor/director/counselor for a non-denominational recovery program until I retired seven years ago. and still could not get any grants to do that work.
      President George HW Bush knew the value and efficiency of faith based organizations and his hot air promise to get the evangelical Christian votes was his infamous thousand points of light policy to provide funds to faith based organizations, I had a soup kitchen in our facility, went to the presentations to learn the procedure and guess what. I could get the money, if the facility was not part of the church, or any witnessing was done by any of the staff. thanks to the ACLU and their bullying lawsuits. So what would be the use to feed the homeless, or the needy if we as a church could not do it in the name of Christ? The church counsel simply voted not to go the government and we relied on community donations which worked out as God met our needs through the community. It is not impossible, but would take a massive effort to have counselors commit time through their private practice, and that would leave a lot of busy signals to the Vets who are calling the hot-line. (that would put the effort under the same condemnation as the VA is now)… when someone who is thinking suicide has enough sense to call a hotline it is a very serious matter and the wait in line BS will kill a lot of people reaching out for help.
      It is time to hold our congress accountable (not just hot air and a hearing or two), and the only way is by using our votes to get the establishment politicians out, and someone in that really cares about who they are sent there to serve.
      Our vets deserve far better than what they get, from an agency (administration) who by mandate are to give top quality top of the line care to the ones who gave so much to keep them in business. I am adamant about holding their feet to the fire on this one, no passes or excuses or cover-ups or finger pointing will work. I will start by involving our next president Trump, and any congressman to sign on before they are re-elected, or I will do my level best through their local Tea Party to campaign against them. And I know I have God in my corner, and perhaps most of the US Christian Protestant voters. but someone has to start the movement, perhaps the Black Robe Regiment and Wall Builders, I don’t know but the more I think about it the more fired up I get. It is not letting the government off the hook, it is their responsibility just as much as any other issue.
      Right now we have an approval rating of somewhere around 12-16% for congress, and it is time for them to step up and do what they are put their to do.
      I have made the commitment to head it up, a movement for the vets, and now I will act on the plan as the plan comes together with the resources available.
      No your not a doubting Thomas, you are an inspiration and I love you and what you do.
      Thanks for putting up with me.

      R.S. Helms (and I approve this message) 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • OK… Take your mic, lift it chest high, drop it and walk away sir! BRAVO!!! I take my hat off to you for allll that you do as a Christian Councelor. Not enough of you to go around! OUTSTANDING and thank you!!

        You mentioned SBC… That’s my church here in Phoenix…you too??

        Liked by 2 people

      • Had to find another reply… so it is out of order… concerning the SBC I pastored two SBC churches in Southern Utah, where I really had to take the church to the community. God blessed the effort in both, and I had to wear several hats in the State Convention and the National Convention (when they still had the Baptist Men and Baptist Brotherhood), and be a full time pastor. Counseling was how I got into the ministry… telling God what he had called me to be… But God works his work and brought me to surrendering to the Ministry. I retired in 02, went to New Orleans, and Worked as a Counselor at the Methodest Childrens Home, then volunteered to work planting a non-denominational Christian church (The Big Easy Church), as a community church rather than just a church for clients. wound up with Missionary status at the South Arkansas Facility of the recovery program which was from the inner city ghetto of New Orleans just off the French Quarter, where we planted the Church, and home for the Ministry. We took in drug addicts, alcoholics, and mental homeless people off the streets, it was a one year live-in program.

        Like

  4. Reblogged this on Bob's Opinion and commented:
    COULD IT BE, that Bush, Obama, and Hillary’s promises are just hot air? Absolutely! They (Washington’s elite), have been making promises for thirty years, and for thirty years all we get from the fat cats on both sides of the isle is HOT AIR “CAMPAIGN” PROMISES! Enough is absolutely Enough, … so no more hot air, I propose to start a contact your congressman and threaten him that we will work hard to see he/she is put out of office on this single issue. If you are with me you will make sure you pass it on and if you so want I will put my name on it, so the government can come after me. I have had it with how the Government has treated our vets, all they want to do is say you have to turn in your guns, and cannot own a gun! The next thing they will take away their 1,2, amendments and disenfranchise them all together.
    My Name is R.S. Helms and I approve and stand behind this message.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good morning R.S. and thanks for the RB! 😀

      Amen and Amen sir! I share your disgust and appreciate your stand. It’s all hot air! They make promise after promise and in the end it is just hot air that leaves our veterans deflated and much worse. Guess what Capital Hill…we are watching you as never before…

      Blessings R.S.!

      Liked by 2 people

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