Suicidal Army veteran put on hold twice by VA Crisis Hotline

Army veteran Dedra Clady says she was put on hold twice when she called the Veterans Crisis Hot Line, and never did an agent pick up the line, as she was contemplating suicide. Clady was facing unemployment and mounting bills and tried to take her own life, by slitting her wrists, one day in her kitchen.

In that moment of desperation, when she reached out to the VA for help– no one was there.

Veterans advocates – like Bruce Parry of the Coalition of Veterans Organizations — are urging DC to take immediate action.  Problems, like the one Clady reported, have been going on at the VA crisis line for a long time now.

“We wonder how many people died while we’re doing investigations over a two year period,” Parry said.

During peak hours, veterans apparently get transferred to another facility, which handles overflow calls. That’s when the problems arise, CBS 2 reports. Some of the calls are never answered and in other cases, the responders aren’t properly trained.

A recent IG report shows there’s been astronomical growth in the number of calls coming in to the VA crisis line – but it’s not expanding at the rate it needs to expand.

Luckily for Dedra, she had support from her friends and a church group, was able to find a job and get her life back in order.  No thanks to the VA, she says.   She felt so helpless at that point in time, and doesn’t want other vets to go through what she did. 22 veterans kill themselves every day and each day some of them reach out for help.

According to CBS Chicago, the VA is hiring more staff for the crisis line and upgrading its phone system so that all calls are answered promptly by experienced responders.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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