Representative Steve Knight (CA-25) joined a bipartisan effort Tuesday to urge the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to investigate and address ongoing problems with the Veterans Crisis Line program.
The Veterans Crisis Line is a valuable resource intended to provide around-the-clock crisis intervention services at-risk veterans. A recent report by the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) found numerous issues with the program stemming from a lack of cohesive leadership that resulted in a high number of calls being forwarded to backup call centers that lacked appropriate quality control measures. In a bipartisan letter to VA Secretary Shulkin, Rep. Knight and his colleagues called on the Department to urgently identify the causes of the problems and report back on its plans to overcome them.
“With a recent VA study finding that 20 veterans commit suicide each day, it is more important than ever that the VCL be fully functional and that its reach continues to broaden,” the letter states.
Knight is a longtime supporter of improving suicide-prevention efforts at the VA. In 2016 he supported the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act, a bill that required the VA to establish a management plan for the Veterans Crisis Line. Earlier this year he reintroduced the No Hero Left Untreated Act, which would establish a pilot program for the VA to provide a promising neurological treatment to help veterans recover from post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), military sexual trauma (MST), chronic pain, and opiate addiction.
“We owe our veterans a tremendous debt, and that starts with offering quality care and service for both their physical and mental wounds,” said Knight. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in addressing issues with the Veterans Crisis Line and I will continue to work to ensure that our veterans have access to the high-quality resources they need.”
A copy of the letter can be found below.