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VA Defends Crisis Line Amid Criticisms from Congress, Recent Reports

By U.S. Medicine

By Sandra Basu

VA officials insisted last month that the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) “is the strongest it has been since its inception in 2007.” This VA photo shows employees fielding calls.

WASHINGTON — Despite criticism from recent government reports, VA officials insisted last month that the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) “is the strongest it has been since its inception in 2007.”

“In the past six months, VCL has nearly doubled the capacity to ensure appropriate access to veterans,” pointed out VHA Deputy Under Secretary for Operations and Management Steve Young.

Young told lawmakers that, since January, the two VCL call centers answered an average of more than 99% of the calls received on a daily basis.

Prior to the opening of the second call center in October 2016, however, VCL saw more than 3,000 calls per week roll over to back-up call centers.

Young made his comments at a hearing held by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs assessing concerns about the VCL.

At the hearing, Chairman Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) pointed out that “over the last year, VCL has been the subject of three major investigations by the VA Inspector General (IG) and by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that have found serious management, organizational and quality deficiencies in virtually every facet of VCL’s operations.”

“There is very clearly a need for more to be done and soon, so that we can be assured that every veteran or family member who contacts the VCL gets the urgent help he or she needs every single time without fail or delay,” Roe emphasized.


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