Sunday, May 3, 2015

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.

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.

Since its creation in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has fielded more than 1.6 million calls and is credited with 48,000 rescues, according to VA.
read more here Here is the story of what happened that time.
Veteran says he was repeatedly put on hold by veterans' suicide hotline
Hotline has problems with handling number of calls
ABC News
Adam Walser
Apr 13, 2015

He put himself in danger to protect our country, but when he needed help to save his own life all he got was a recorded message. 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.
read more here

And before that
Veterans describe runaround when calling crisis line; Texas man records 36 minutes on hold
Amanda Kost, Scripps News
Isaac Wolf, Scripps News
Feb 23, 2015

WASHINGTON D.C. - On an evening last March, 42-year-old Dedra Hughes’ thoughts turned to suicide.

The Army veteran, who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder five years earlier, had split with her boyfriend days before. She was unemployed and had stopped taking classes. And she was convinced her two daughters would be better off without her. Sitting on the floor of her suburban Chicago living room, Hughes attempted to slash her wrist but didn’t draw blood, and says she passed out from anxiety. Her 12-year-old discovered her there on the floor with the knife beside her.

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.
read more here

His story came out the same day this did.
Oscars 2015: Who Dana Perry Is and Why She Want Us to Pay Attention to Suicide
ABC News
Feb 23, 2015

While accepting the Oscar for best documentary short subject, director Dana Perry said suicide should be talked about "out loud," dedicating the award to her son.

During her acceptance speech on behalf of "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1," the music abruptly cut off when Perry mentioned her son, Evan Scott Perry, who committed suicide at age 15 in 2005. "I lost my son," Perry told reporters after the speech.

"We need to talk about suicide out loud to try to work against the stigma and silence around suicide because the best prevention for suicide is awareness and discussion and not trying sweep it under the rug."

Perry also mentioned veteran suicide in her Oscar speech, which she called "a crisis." Tonight's Oscar-winning HBO documentary, directed by Perry and Ellen Goosenberg Kent, is about the Department of Veterans Affairs' 24-hour call center for veterans.
read more here

Wonder if they thought to include what else was going on?

This was part of the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act in 2007. Ever since then veterans have been complaining to members of Congress about what was happening to them when they did call. Not much changed. So now we get yet another investigation to be followed by even more hearings. No one seems to know when we get something that actually works.

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