Knight urges changes to Veterans Crisis Line

Congressman Steve Knight answers questions from constiuents during a town hall at the Chimbole Cultural Center in Palmdale on Saturday, March 4, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Joining a bi-partisan effort to urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to address and investigate Veterans Crisis Line issues, Representative Steve Knight announced his support to repair the program on Tuesday.

The Veterans Crisis Line is a crisis intervention service that seeks to help at-risk veterans 24-hours a day. According to a report by the VA Office of Inspector General, more than one-fourth of calls were being forwarded to backup call centers that did not have appropriate quality control centers, Knight’s office said.

Signed by 86 U.S. representatives, the letter told VA Secretary David J. Shulkin that the hotline’s failure to address calls adequately was “unacceptable.”

“We owe our veterans a tremendous debt, and that starts with offering quality care and service for both their physical and mental wounds,” Knight said in a statement. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in addressing issues with the Veterans Crisis Line and I will continue to work to ensure that our veterans have access to the high-quality resources they need.”

A recent VA study found that 20 veterans commit suicide a day, the legislators’ letter said.

One key concern expressed in the letter was a lack of structure in oversight, as the hotline has not had a permanent director since 2015.

The letter said it is not the quantity of calls that matter, but the quality, and said this would be addressed if the VA Office of Mental Health played a more significant role in overseeing the program and also provided better training for responders.

The hotline has received more than 2.5 million calls since it began in 2007, and over 60,000 of these calls have been forwarded to emergency personnel for immediate action.

This is one of several efforts Knight has put forth to help veterans, which include his support of the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act and the No Hero Left Untreated Act.

To reach the Veterans Crisis Line, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text 838255 or talk online at

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