WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Joni Ernst, a combat veteran, called on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to address the failures of the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) outlined in a new report from the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General. The VCL is available to veterans experiencing suicidal thoughts, or concerned friends and family, to connect with VA responders through a 24-hour hotline, online chat, or text. The report found that the VCL failed to meet the recommendations that the OIG issued in 2016, and continues to inadequately respond to veterans’ urgent needs.

“The 2016 report regarding the Veterans Crisis Line revealed a failure to uphold the promises made to our veterans, and it is quite frankly completely unacceptable that many of these recommendations have yet to be enacted,” said Senator Ernst. “When a veteran is experiencing suicidal thoughts, or a concerned loved one reaches out to the Veterans Crisis Line, it is because the situation has reached a breaking point and a veteran’s life is in danger. The VA cannot continue to take this halfhearted approach when it comes to implementing the recommendations identified by the inspector general more than a year ago.

I urge VA Secretary Shulkin to address this issue immediately. We must fix this severely flawed system to ensure Iowa’s veterans, and veterans across the country, have timely access to the care they need and deserve.”