Chairman Roe, Ranking Member Walz Announce Hearing to Assess Veterans Crisis Line
Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-Minn.) announced the committee will hold a full committee oversight hearing to assess ongoing concerns regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs Crisis Line (VCL).
The members released the following statements:
“The men and woman who have worn the uniform of our great nation have sacrificed so much to protect the freedoms we enjoy today. When they are in crisis, they deserve to have their calls answered in a timely manner by a trained professional,” said Roe. “I look forward to this opportunity to conduct oversight of the Veterans Crisis Line so that our nation’s heroes can get the help they need when they need it most.”
“When it comes to ending the tragedy of veteran suicide, the Veterans Crisis Line is one of our greatest assets; that is why it is imperative VCL works properly so that when a veteran makes that dire call for help, they are able to receive the assistance they need from a trained professional without delay,” said Walz. “Being there for our veterans is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of the VA, that is why I look forward to working with Chairman Roe as our Committee conducts oversight on this critical issue.”
The following event is open to the press:
WHO: House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
WHEN: Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
WHERE: 334 Cannon House Office Building and streaming at veterans.house.gov
The VCL was established in 2007 with the mission of providing immediate, confidential suicide prevention and crisis intervention services to veterans. Since February 2016, the VA Inspector General (IG) has released two reports documenting serious defects with the operations and management of the VCL.
The most recent IG report, which was released on March 20, 2017, found that the VCL had failed to adequately respond to a veteran caller with urgent needs; that VCL’s governance structure, operations, and quality assurance functions are deficient; that VA had failed to implement the recommendations issued in response to the previous IG report; and, that VCL social service assistants were inadequately trained and overseen.
During the hearing, the Committee will assess the IG’s findings and recommendations as well as the effectiveness of the actions VA has taken to realign the VCL and rectify its flaws. The Committee will also examine the department’s progress implementing the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act (Public Law 114-247), which Congress passed in 2016 to require VA to develop a VCL quality assurance program and a plan to ensure that each call, text, or other incoming communication is responded to by the VCL in a timely, appropriate manner.