CBS 2 News Story “VA Crisis Hotline Puts Suicidal Chicago Vet On Hold”

CHICAGO (CBS) — Every day 22 veterans kill themselves, and every day some of them reach out for help. But recently, as CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports, that help wasn’t there when they needed it most.

Chicagoan Dedra Clady, an Army veteran, honorably discharged, was facing unemployment and mounting bills and the haunting memory of a sexual assault that happened shortly before she joined the service.

Clady said her family made her feel like it was her fault, making her think there was only one way out.

“I went to my kitchen, retrieved a small knife went back to my living room, sat on the floor and contemplated slitting my wrist,” she said.

Clady, desperate, called the Veterans Crisis Hot Line. She said she was put on hold twice and insists an agent was never put on the line.

“I’m in need of help and there’s no one here,” she said.

It’s a story all too familiar to veterans’ advocates.

“When somebody needs help, the help has to be there,” said Bruce Parry of the Coalition of Veterans Organizations.
Parry has been complaining about problems with the crisis line for two years. His group sent a letter to Washington D.C. urging immediate action.

“We wonder how many people died while we’re doing investigations over a two year period?” he said.

During the hot line’s peak hours, a veteran in crisis could get transferred to another facility that handles overflow calls. Critics say that’s when a lot of the problems start.

“In some cases veterans didn’t get an answer, the phone wasn’t answered and in some cases the responder was not properly trained,” Parry said.

Allegations confirmed in a recent inspector general’s report.

“What they’ve seen is astronomical growth in the number of calls that are coming in and I don’t think they’ve expanded at the rate that it needs to be expanded,” Parry said.

With the help of friends and a church group, Clady recovered. Today, she has a good job, but she wants other veterans to get help when the need it most.

“I felt helpless,” she said.

Parry urged that the Veteran Administration hire more staff for the crisis hotline and that’s exactly what the VA told us it’s doing. As well, the VA says it’ll upgrade the phone system, vowing that by the year’s end every veteran in crisis will have their call answered promptly by an experienced responder.

Read the Coalition of Veterans Organizations’ letter sent to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Erik Shinkseki expressing our concern over the life-threatening difficulties encountered with the VA Crisis Hot Line.

Original Source: http://cbsloc.al/1TQrQem

Next CVO Meeting at Jesse Brown VA November 15th

The next meeting of the Coalition of Veterans Organizations (CVO) will be held on Saturday, November 15th from 10 AM to 12:30 PM at the Jesse Brown VA in the 2nd Floor Conference Room.

We will have parking validation.

We will have a presentation on Discharge Upgrades by Ray Parrish. Ray is a long-term member of CVO, a trained Veteran Service Officer (VSO) and an expert on Discharge Upgrades. Don’t miss his presentation!

We’ll also have updates on all the CVO activities.

As always, Coffee and Donuts will be served.

We’ll start on time, so plan to arrive early.

Bruce Parry
CVO Chair

Next CVO Meeting at the Manual Perez Post 1017 July 19

The next meeting of the Coalition of Veterans Organizations (CVO) will be from 10 AM to 12:30 PM on Saturday, July 19th at the Manual Perez Post 1017 American Legion, 2658 S Hamlin Ave, Chicago, IL 60623 (773-522-9315). We’ll discuss the carrying our message to the Legislators, what’s going on in the VA, the VA Crisis Hot Line, and more.

As usual, donuts and coffee will be served!

Get there early so we can get started on time!

CVO Response to the VA Crisis Hot Line Problems

CVO Members and Supporters:

The following letter was sent to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Erik Shinkseki expressing our concern over the life-threatening difficulties encountered with the VA Crisis Hot Line. Copies were also sent to the VA Inspector General, the entire Illinois Congressional Delegation, and the National Commanders of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

Download Letter

 

 

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Letter