GOP senator: Fire VA official over suicide hotline

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Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkCalifornia National Guard official: Congress knew about bonus repayments Great Lakes senators seek boost for maritime system GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (R-Ill.) is pushing Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald to fire a top mental health official after a watchdog found some calls to a crisis hotline were being sent to voicemail.

In a letter to McDonald released Monday, Kirk said Mary Schohn, the director of mental health operations for the VA's Veterans Health Administration, had "failed veterans in their darkest hour." 
"You've often stated that you are changing the culture at the VA," he added in the letter. "Use the authority you have to demonstrate that repeated failure at the VA is unacceptable by firing Dr. Schohn." 
The letter comes after the VA Office of Inspector General found some calls to the VA's crisis line — created to help address suicide among veterans — were eventually sent to a voicemail system or didn't receive immediate assistance from a staffer.
Kirk, in his letter, suggested the VA's Office of Mental Health Services and Operations, which oversees the crisis line, had known about "unacceptable examples of disregard" since April 2014. 
"For several years, media reports have also highlighted problems in the program, all under the direction of Dr. Mary Schohn," Kirk added. 
As part of the watchdog report, the VA IG 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.
Kirk previously slammed the VA over the watchdog's findings on the crisis line, saying that "the culture of corruption and incompetence at the VA knows no boundaries."