Republican Congressman David Young’s bill calling for the Veterans Administration to fix problems with its suicide hotline has cleared the U.S. House and awaits action in the Senate.
“Earlier this year I heard from a few veterans, folks who had cases with our office. They have some emotional, mental war wounds,” Young says. “They’ve been calling the crisis line and whether the signal was busy or it went answered, this was unacceptable. And so, what do you do? You address it legislatively.”
Young’s bill calls on the Veterans Administration to come up with a way to ensure all calls to the crisis line are answered. “And they report to congress what those quality assurances are and if they have ant issues where they can’t get it done,” he says. Young says it means if calls continue to slip through the cracks, the VA must tell congress they need more staff, more training for the staff already there or even better technology to deal with call volume.
The crisis line fielded half a million calls last year. Young had hoped his bill would clear the Senate last week, but it didn’t. He expects the bill will pass when congress convenes after the November election.
About 20 veterans commit suicide in America every day, but a recent report found few of those veterans had gotten services from the VA in the year before their death.