Sunday, November 20, 2016

Another Suicide Prevention Bill, Just More of the Same

This may sound good to you,
The Scoop
Speaker Ryan Press Office
November 18, 2016
Yesterday, Speaker Ryan signed H.R. 5392, the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act—legislation introduced by Rep. David Young (R-IA) to assure veterans’ needs are prioritized. Prior to signing the bill, Speaker Ryan discussed its significance during his weekly press briefing:

“This week, Congress gave final approval to legislation that will help veterans in need. H.R. 5392 requires the VA [to] respond to calls to its crisis hotlines in a timely manner.

“This is one of those bills that should not even be necessary, but sadly—and tragically—it is. read more here

In June of this year, a veteran called the Crisis Hotline and WTVM News reported,

"I called back the next day which was past the 24 hours they said they would call back,” said Burks. “And,I waited another 24 hours and they did call.” 

Burks worries the long wait time could be devastating for someone suffering from P.T.S.D. 

But a Bill to prevent suicides sounded good before. Actually, scratch that. Make it many, many times before.

May 2, 2015 Military Times reported this.

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.

According to the report, Koran's wife died of cancer last year and he was despondent the day he made the call.

But when he dialed, he was placed on hold numerous times. After he reached a counselor, he said he did not feel comforted, according to the report.

"They had me on the [verge] of saying to hell with it," he said, according to WFTS.
Makes sense that Florida Senator would be paying attention considering it turns out that in 2014 the number of veterans in Florida committing suicide was called a "staggering" number when between 1999 and 2011 there were 31,885 reported suicides.

April 13, 2015 ABC News reported this
Ted Koran was thinking about committing suicide Saturday night.

He reached out to the VA and the Veterans Suicide Hotline for help, but said he couldn't get any until after he was repeatedly put on hold for up to 10 minutes at time.

Veterans in Crisis: Vets put on hold for 36 minutes His case is just the latest the I-Team has been exposing for months now.

When the Veterans Crisis Hotline was first set up by the VA in 2007, it averaged 60 calls a day on four manned phone lines.

Now, 52 operators at a time field about a thousand calls a day, and that's not always even enough to keep some veterans on the verge of suicide from being placed on hold.

February 23, 2015 KJRH News reported this.
Hughes decided that night to turn to the national Veterans Crisis Line, a 24-hour, seven-day-a week service that promises an immediate, open line to professional help. But when Hughes phoned, she said, her call went straight to hold. After several minutes, she became frustrated and hung up. “I would never call the hotline again,” said Hughes. She said she needed to quickly get to someone that night who could give her help and reassurance.
Does it sound bad now? Wait because this was reported on Army Times July 14, 2010. The link no longer works but it is still alive on Wounded Times
Even as Veterans Affairs Department officials offered testimony that 10,000 people have been saved by VA’s suicide hotline, veterans themselves said help should come long before a person needs to make that call. “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.

A lot of things may sound good, but you have to look back to see if what sounded good produced good results. The fact is, there have been some veterans rescued by the Crisis Hotline. It is also a fact that it began back in 2007 with The Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act. It is also a fact that considering we have over 5 million less veterans than we did in 1999, the VA has reported the same, stunning number, of veterans committing suicide at 20 per day.

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