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.
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 McCainJohn McCainKerry fires back at McCain: I'm not 'delusional' House to vote on ObamaCare mandate exemption Tuesday Debate must expose divide between Trump, Clinton on climate change MORE (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."
The inspector general report made seven recommendations including collecting data on calls made to the hotline and making sure all training for crisis hotline staffers is documented. The VA, in the report, agreed with all of the recommendations and said it would implement them by Sept. 30.
The VA has been under congressional scrutiny since a 2014 scandal over allegations that VA employees conspired to hide long wait times for veterans seeking medical appointments. Lawmakers also passed legislation last year to bolster the VA's suicide prevention efforts.