Tags: va | suicide | hotline | documentary | unanswered

VA Suicide Hotline in Documentary in Hot Seat Over Unanswered Calls

Image: VA Suicide Hotline in Documentary in Hot Seat Over Unanswered Calls
(HBO.com/"Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1")

By    |   Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 11:05 AM

A VA suicide hotline that was the subject of an Academy Award-winning HBO documentary allowed at least 23 calls from veterans, troops, or family members to be transferred to voicemail with those calls never being returned in fiscal 2014, the Military Times reported.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs' Inspector General report, a watchdog investigation uncovered voicemail errors from contractors hired for backup services when the VA-operated crisis lines were at their peak.

The inspector general report added that the VA had no way of knowing whether its backup center were running sufficiently since it did not train or monitor those employees.

The department has said that, since the crisis center hotline was started in 2007, its operators have answered about 2 million calls and provided emergency interventions that saved lives in more than 53,000 cases, according to USA Today.

"We substantiated allegations that some calls routed to backup crisis centers were answered by voicemail, and callers did not always receive immediate assistance," the VA Inspector General report states.

Victoria Dillon, a VA spokeswoman, told USA Today that the department is increasing staffing at its center in Canandaigua, New York, and taking additional steps to ensure calls do not bounce to voicemail. She added that plans are also underway to begin monitoring the backup centers.

"Systems are being reviewed and action plans have been developed to resolve the issues and address the OIG (Officer of Inspector General) recommendations," she said.

VA secretary Robert McDonald said that improvements are already being made and have increased the line's capacity, according to the Military Times.

The documentary "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1" spotlighted several Veteran Affairs Crisis Line counselors who work the phones for the service, providing support, guidance, and hope to active and retired military members dealing with emotional, physical, and financial difficulties. It won the Oscar for best documentary in 2015.

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A VA suicide hotline that was the subject of an Academy Award-winning HBO documentary allowed at least 23 calls from veterans, troops, or family members to be transferred to voicemail with those calls never being returned in fiscal 2014.
va, suicide, hotline, documentary, unanswered
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2016-05-16
Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 11:05 AM
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