Responding to disturbing revelations of widespread neglect at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in which phone calls from distraught veterans were sent to voice mail or ignored by staff, the House of Representatives passed a measure Monday to compel VA crisis-line operators to discharge their assigned responsibilities to the highest level of professional standards.
Disclosures ranged from VA employees spending “very little time on the phone or engaged in assigned productive activity,” to one in six calls from emotionally-troubled veterans that were sent to voice mail and employees at crisis centers who were not familiar with procedures or telephone system options.
As a result, the House passed H.R. 5392, the “No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act”.
“A veteran in need cannot wait for help, and any incident where a veteran has trouble with the Veterans Crisis Line is simply unacceptable,” said Rep. David Young (R-Iowa), who sponsored the bill.
Aimed at reforming the much-needed crisis center, the measure necessitates all VA employees answer attempts to reach the center in an appropriate time frame and calls be managed by a qualified operator with training on how to guide delicate situations from troubled veterans seeking assistance.
The VA has been under fire of late for a litany of unpleasant incidents.
A pattern of negligence including the deaths of patients awaiting treatment, 40 of whom died at the Phoenix VA facility alone in 2014, VA executives fraudulently obtaining $400,000 in relocation expenses and one veteran’s death as a result of over medication, the VA has pledged to hire more staff and reform training for crisis-center operators.
[RT News] [Photo courtesy BioEdge]