Several weeks before leaving his job as the director of the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line, Greg Hughes sent out emails that shed light on more issues within the Department of Veterans Affairs. Hughes explained the over one-third of the calls to the veteran’s suicide hotline were not answered by trained staffers mainly due to poor work habits. Hughes elaborated on those poor work habits by describing how crisis line staffers “spend very little time on the phone or engaged in assigned productive activity,” and that the VA has “staff who routinely request to leave early.” With an estimated 20 veterans committing suicide every day it is unacceptable that veterans are unable to get the help they need because the VA allows staffers to get away with leaving early or neglecting their job responsibilities.
On Monday the House will vote on a bill requiring the VA to ensure that all communications received by the crisis line are answered by a trained staffer in a timely manner. The sponsor of this bill Rep. David Young (R-IA) said that a veteran in his district tried to reach the crisis line and repeatedly received a busy signal. “This hotline let him down,” Young said. “A veteran in need cannot wait for help, and any incident where a veteran has trouble with the Veterans Crisis Line is simply unacceptable.”