VA crisis hotline sees uptick in calls after Kabul collapse

The Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters is seen in Washington, D.C., on June 3
Greg Nash

The Department of Veterans Affairs hotline has seen an uptick in calls since Kabul fell to the Taliban on Sunday.

There was a 9 percent increase in calls on Sunday compared to the same day last year, Gary Kunich, public affairs specialist for the department, told The Hill.

There were 1,456 calls on Aug. 15 of last year, which was a Saturday, Kunich noted. The nine percent increase on Aug. 15 that occurred this year was on a Sunday when the department normally sees a lower volume of calls. 

The total number of calls on Aug. 15 of this year was 1,681.

From Aug. 13 to Aug. 16, leading up to the collapse of Kabul and afterward, there were 531 more calls compared to the same time last year.

There were 8,038 calls from Aug. 13 to Aug. 16 in 2020.

From Aug. 13 to Aug. 16, leading up to the collapse of Kabul, there were 531 more calls compared to the same time last year.

There has been a significant increase and VA is doing everything to connect our Veterans to the care they have earned and deserve,” Kunich said.

Thousands of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies who work with the U.S. military are still stuck in Afghanistan as evacuation efforts became increasingly difficult when the Taliban took over the capital city. 

The U.S. had thousands of military members working with Afghan allies and in Afghanistan over the past two decades. 

After 20 years, the Taliban was able to take over the country in a matter of days when President Biden pulled troops from the region.

The group has set up a circle around Kabul international airport, the only way out of the country, and is controlling who enters and leaves. 

Those looking to make it out of the country are at the mercy of the Taliban, which would have to let them through to the airport.

The department sent an email out to 9 million people on Monday to reiterate the services it provides and the hotline number for veterans who need it during this time.

The increase in calls also occurred in July when the crisis hotline saw an average number of 2,011 every day. The average daily volume of calls for the past three years has been at 1,886.

The department handles 725,000 calls yearly, with the number increasing.

— Updated 5:28 p.m.

Tags Afghanistan conflict Afghanistan withdrawal Department of Veterans Affairs Joe Biden Kabul Taliban Taliban insurgency War in Afghanistan

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