CANADAIGUA, NY — ABC 10 recently reported on a change that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says will help improve the Veterans Crisis Line – however this news may not be as good as it seems. ABC 10’s Sarah Mac reports.
Last week ABC 10 reported that the V.A. has made a change in who manages the Veterans Crisis Line – a life saving resource for Vets who find themselves at risk for suicide. The V.A.’s Member Services Line now manages the Crisis Line… however according to a Member Services balanced Scorecard, provided by Scott Davis, they don’t have the best track record with a dropped call rate of about 26%.
Scott Davis is a Program Specialist for the V.A. in Atlanta, who has spoken out against this change. He says another major problem with this change is that even if the call is successful, the veteran in crisis speaks with someone from the call center not a trained professional.
“So if you have an overwhelmingly under-performing office – that has under-performed for several years – then how can you say,” Davis added, “‘This is the call center that should be the call center that handles a suicide crisis hot-line, and I’m going to turn all the decision over to someone who has no background in mental health, no background psychology, no background in social work?'”
ABC 10 reached out to the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs and received this response from the Chairman, Rep. Jeff Miller:
“…Instilling accountability across the department is so important. Until VA is able to seriously and swiftly discipline employees who can’t or won’t do their jobs – such as those responsible for the abysmal performance of the Veterans Crisis Line – it is simply illogical to think the department’s problems will ever be fixed. The House has already acted to address this issue head on, with passage of the VA Accountability Act in July 2015. And it’s well past time for the Senate to get in step with veterans and taxpayers by passing this commonsense proposal.”
Davis says the best course of action is to choose someone with experience in the Office of Mental Health Services to manage the hot-line to provide the best level of care.