Republican Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran is demanding an investigation into whether the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) is ignoring calls from a number of veterans, according to letters sent by Moran.
A number of whistleblowers have come forward alleging that the VCL is transferring away calls from veterans with “complex needs” seeking care for emergency mental health concerns, according to Moran’s Tuesday letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough. Moran initiated an investigation with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to address the Veteran Affairs’ “mismanagement creating a danger to the health and safety of veterans nationwide,” according to a letter to the GAO on Nov. 6.
Approximately 900,000 veterans called the VCL in 2022, a 15% increase from 2020, Moran said in his letter to the GAO. The VCL is transferring calls from veterans with “complex needs” to a special unit within the organization that is “severely understaffed by an untrained workforce,” and is therefore failing to properly field incoming communication efforts, according to the letter.
“VA’s history with secret waiting lists of veterans in desperate need for care is deplorable,” Moran said in his letter to the GAO. “If the Veterans Crisis Line is letting veterans who reach out in moments of desperation slip through the cracks, as alleged, it needs to be known and it needs to be stopped.”
“Any program leaders who are aware of gaps in the service and preventing transparency should be held accountable and replaced,” Moran said.
After being alerted by current and former VA employees of alarming evidence of mismanagement at the Veterans Crisis Line, I immediately initiated an investigation with the Government Accountability Office.https://t.co/bsz4pqvpyf
— Senator Jerry Moran (@JerryMoran) November 15, 2023
The VCL is meant to offer 24/7 support for veterans and their family members seeking mental health care. Approximately 16 veterans died by suicide every day in 2020, equating to a total of 6,146 deaths, according to the 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.
Veterans seeking emergency mental health care can call the VCL by dialing 988 and selecting option one.
The VA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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