Emergency phone calls to the Veterans Affairs crisis hotline should be answered, no? Well, the hotline center apparently was not doing its basic duties. It has gotten so bad that Congress even had to pass a bill to make sure veterans don't get placed on hold for an inordinate amount of time as they wait for help from the agency that pledged to provide care.
In September, the Associated Press reported that a third of all veterans' calls to the crisis hotline were not being answered by front-line staffers. Instead, these calls are often transferred to back-up centers that don't have adequate training on veterans' issues. Why? The AP cites "poor work habits." For instance, several staffers often went home early.
To address the negligence, Rep. David Young, (R-IA) sponsored a bill in the House to mandate that all calls to the hotline be answered in a timely manner. It passed unanimously. Then, Sens. John Thune, (R-SD), and Amy Klobuchar, (D-MN) introduced the legislation in the Senate, where it also recently passed. President Obama completed the bill's journey on Monday when he signed it into law.
It's estimated that 20 veterans commit suicide every day. Their calls to the VA hotline should never go to voicemail.