April 27, 2017

Castro Introduces Legislation to Improve the Veterans Crisis Line

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) introduced legislation to more swiftly connect veterans in crisis directly with professionally trained responders through a confidential and toll-free hotline. The Veterans Crisis Line Improvement Act requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to ensure that when a veteran places a telephone call to any Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility, the first message a caller hears provides a mechanism by which the caller can quickly and directly connect to the Veterans Crisis Line without ending the telephone call. Currently, many VA medical facilities do not immediately connect callers with trained personnel; instead, veterans must hang up and dial a different number to receive assistance.

“Time is of the essence when veterans in crisis call the VA seeking help,” said Rep. Castro. “Ensuring that men and women who have sacrificed so much for our nation can connect quickly and easily with the assistance they need will help save lives and avert tragedy.”

The Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans in crisis and their families with qualified responders through a confidential, toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Created in 2007 and originally called the National Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline, the crisis line was renamed the Veterans Crisis Line in 2011 and has answered more than 2.8 million calls assisting veterans in times of need. Each day, it is estimated that 22 veterans commit suicide. 

In September of 2016, a veteran and constituent of Congressman Castro’s from San Antonio, Texas wrote to the Congressman about the inefficient process many veterans who call VA medical facilities go through to access the crisis line. 

“I came to Congress to serve the people of San Antonio and Texas, and I always want to hear directly from folks back home about how their lives can be improved,” added Rep. Castro. “I’m grateful that a constituent brought this problem to me, and I’m working to make sure the VA institutes commonsense, lifesaving fixes to the Veterans Crisis Line.” 

The American Legion and the Military Order of the Purple Heart have endorsed The Veterans Crisis Line Improvement Act.