The Department of Veterans Affairs will open a third call center in the fall to handle an anticipated increase in calls to the veterans crisis hotline.
The call center will be located on the VA campus in Topeka, Kansas, the VA said late Wednesday. The announcement comes just nine months after a second call center was opened in Atlanta.
“The new center in Topeka gives us more feet on the ground and an easier way for veterans to connect with us when they need us most,” VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a written statement.
The VA has previously been criticized for allowing calls to the veterans crisis line to roll to voicemail. Last year, the VA inspector general reported instances of veterans waiting on hold for long periods and calls being dropped.
The opening of the Atlanta facility improved the situation, the VA said. In December, it reported the crisis line was answering 44 percent more calls than it was months earlier, but some calls were still rolling to a backup center. When phone lines are busy, calls are routed to another contracted call center. The inspector found responders in those centers were ill-equipped to handle crises.
About 200 responders work at the Atlanta facility, and 310 work at the VA’s original call center in upstate New York. The Topeka facility will bring the number of employees staffing the veterans crisis line to 610. The call centers answer phone calls, texts and online messages from veterans, servicemembers and their families.
The VA is also expecting an increase in calls once it expands a function to automatically transfer veterans to the veterans crisis line from any VA facility. At VA hospitals, veterans can press “7” from a phone and be sent to the hotline. The VA is rolling the option out to its 300 veterans centers and more than 1,000 outpatient clinics.
The expansion is expected in the next few months. The VA said the Topeka call center would open in the fall, but didn’t give a date of when it would be operational.
“Expanding the [veterans crisis line] to additional locations and increasing crisis responders is critical to providing veterans with support they need, when they need it,” Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said in a written statement. Moran is a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
To reach the hotline, veterans, servicemembers or their families can call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text 838255 or open an online chat at veteranscrisisline.net.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.
In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)
A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)
Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.
So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.