Desperate for help, a suicidal Air Force veteran claimed he was put on hold numerous times by the VA helpline when he was at his most distraught. He almost took his life on Saturday night when his depression over his wife’s death reached unmanageable levels.
According to the Daily Mail, Ted Koran phoned the Veterans Suicide Hotline but was met with a recorded message. He claimed he was put on hold three times, waiting for up to 10 minutes each time to speak to someone.
Koran admitted he was having an emotional breakdown. “I was missing my wife Karen,” he said.
While she was alive, the two of them had ran a Florida wildlife sanctuary called The Critter Place. Koran said the only thing that kept him from killing himself was that he had to care for the 60 rescue animals he and his wife had watched over together.
“My wife and I saved them, and they saved me,” Koran, 59, said.
His wife had passed away six month ago from cancer and he was overwhelmed with grief when he called the hotline. “I went to the only place I knew and that I had available to me, the VA,” said Koran.
He said his first call was to the James Haley VA Center in Tampa, where a recorded message gave him the 800 number to the suicide hotline. He stated he then called back twice, both times put on hold for 10 minutes.
In tears, Koran sat patiently waiting for someone to help him. He admitted he was “on the verge of saying the hell with it.” He added that even when someone did finally talk to him, they were not much help.
The Veterans Suicide Hotline was set up in 2007 with four manned lines, receiving about 60 calls a day. Currently, it fields up to 1,000 calls a day with 52 operators on staff. Even with the increase in personnel, the hotline cannot manage all the calls it receives.
The Daily Mail reported that statistics show that 22 veterans commit suicide each day across the United States. Even so, depressed and desperate former military members are put on hold when calling for help. This fact serves as blatant evidence that the VA is facing a crisis when dealing with depression in ex-soldiers.