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Obama's VA Suicide Crisis hotline sending callers to voicemail

Obama's VA Suicide Crisis hotline sending callers to voicemail

JORDAIN CARNEY | The Hill

A pair of Senate Republicans are slamming the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after a top watchdog found that some calls to its suicide crisis hotline were being sent to voicemail.

"The culture of corruption and incompetence at the VA knows no boundaries. To think that we lose 22 veterans to suicide every day in this country — and our VA allows their calls to go to voicemail — is unforgivable," Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who faces a tough reelection bid, said Wednesday.

Kirk's remarks follow a report from the VA's Office of Inspector General that found some calls to the hotline, which was created to help address suicide among veterans, were eventually sent to a voicemail system or didn't receive immediate assistance from a staffer.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who chairs the Armed Services Committee, added separately that he was "disappointed" by the report's findings.

"It is shocking that VA leadership only seems to find out about these widespread problems after they come to light in the media," he said. "The VA’s inability to run a call center and deal with increasing demand has put our nation’s veterans at greater risk."

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