Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Veterans In Crisis Waiting On Hold Still After All These Years?

Gee sounds really bad to put veterans on hold when they are in crisis. It is ever worst when you understand this all started back in 2007 with the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act and Congress has been hearing about all of this for years. Just take 2010 for example. Answering the bell
The number of calls to the national Veterans Crisis Line in Canandaigua in the past six fiscal years:
2007: 9,379
2008: 67,350
2009: 118,984
2010: 134,528
2011: 164,101
2012: 193,507
Troubled vets need help sooner, lawmakers told
Army Times
By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jul 14, 2010
“The suicide hotline is too much of a last alternative,” said Melvin Cintron, an Army veteran who served as a flight medic in Desert Storm and in aviation maintenance in the current war in Iraq. “Either you don’t have enough of a problem and you can wait for weeks for an appointment, or you have to be suicidal.”

Cintron spoke Wednesday before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s oversight and investigations panel.

In Florida there was this
Military, veteran suicides account for nearly one in every four in Florida ... but the numbers don't explain why
Rate is one of the nation's highest
Florida Times Union
By Clifford Davis
Apr 26, 2014
“Since its inception, the crisis line has had over 1,150,000 calls,” said Thompson of the VA’s suicide prevention program. “That’s pretty extraordinary. We’re so glad we’ve had that many calls, but of course it’s heartbreaking that people need to reach out that much.”
And in May of 2015 there was this tidbit of news,
Senator Bill Nelson Calls for Veterans Crisis Line Investigation
VA Crisis Line under investigation
Military Times
By Patricia Kime, Staff writer
May 2, 2015

Amid concerns that the Veterans Affairs Department's suicide hotline has left veterans stranded during high-volume call periods, a senator has asked VA to investigate the service to ensure it is meeting veterans' needs.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., recently sent a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald asking for data on the Crisis Line's call volume, hold times, and average wait times between when a call is made and the caller can see a VA therapist or counselor, or a community provider, in person.

Nelson's request was made in response to a news report by Tampa television station WFTS that Air Force veteran Ted Koran was placed on hold repeatedly for up to 10 minutes at a time as he fought off suicidal thoughts.
Yet now we have the same headline as it happens to even more veterans.
Calls to veterans suicide hotline went to voicemail, report says 
Military Times
By Patricia Kime
February 15, 2016

At least 23 veterans, troops or family members who called the Veterans Crisis Line in fiscal 2014 were transferred to a voicemail system and their calls never returned, according to a Veterans Affairs Department Inspector General report.

The VA watchdog's investigation into the hotline's performance launched last year also found that the centers responsible for the voicemail errors, who were contractors hired to provide backup services when the VA-run Crisis Line is operating at peak, may not have trained their counselors adequately to answer calls from those experiencing a mental health crisis.

But because the VA does not train the backup center employees or monitor the centers' training requirements, the department has no way of knowing whether their training is sufficient, the report noted.

The Veterans Crisis Line was established in 2007 to address the growing problem of suicide among veterans and service members. It has fielded more than 2 million calls and is credited with saving more than 50,000 lives. An HBO documentary highlighting the life-and-death drama of the VA suicide hotline efforts won an Oscar last year.
read more here