The VA is making changes aimed at improving the Veterans Crisis Line, said Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson.
For one, the Crisis Line will form a “stronger bond” with the VA’s Suicide Prevention Office and Mental Health Services, Gibson said. The Crisis Line also will be under the direction of the VA’s Member Services, which is restructuring portions of the VA that have direct contact with veterans. The plan is to give the Crisis Line staff more support by streamlining processes and putting more resources at their fingertips,. The structural changes build on key hires from last year, including a director with extensive clinical social work background. The VA has also committed to expanding staff— the Crisis Line currently has more than 300 employees—and improving phone systems and equipment to better handle demand.
“Last year, counselors at the Crisis Line dispatched emergency responders to intervene and save the lives of veterans in crisis more than 11,000 times,” Gibson said. “That means, on average, we’re stepping in to save 30 lives per day. “Nothing could be more important.”