Young seeks answers about VA staffing procedures for crisis hotline

U.S. Rep. David Young (R-IA) called for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to clarify staffing procedures for the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) on Thursday.

In a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, Young sought clarification about staffing procedures for VCL, a confidential, toll-free hotline that provides suicide prevention and crisis resources to veterans.

“Two separate reports by the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed my constituent’s experience was not isolated — but part of a larger problem caused, in part, by a lack of procedures and processes for VCL employees to follow,” Young wrote. “Though the VA has promised to fix these problems, they remain.”

Young introduced the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act, H.R.5392, earlier this year to improve the responsiveness and performance of the VCL.

“Furthermore, I have been made aware of an additional concern the VA or contractors may be utilizing workers outside of the United States to staff the VCL phone lines,” Young wrote. “The VA must ensure its decisions positively impact veterans — particularly when it comes to mental health assistance. I am concerned by these allegations and how potential outsourcing and contracting VCL operations may impact our vulnerable veterans.”

VA data shows that 20 veterans commit suicide each day, Young noted.

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