FILE - In this March 7, 2017, file photo, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, addresses a House Veterans' Affairs Committee's hearing on Captiol Hill in Washington. The Department of Veterans Affairs is telling skeptical lawmakers it has already fixed problems with its suicide hotline that were highlighted in an internal watchdog’s report released just two weeks ago. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Dismissing auditors, VA says suicide hotline problems fixed

April 04, 2017 - 3:03 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs is telling skeptical lawmakers it has already fixed problems with its suicide hotline that were highlighted in an internal watchdog's report released just two weeks ago.

A March 20 audit by the VA inspector general had found that nearly a third of calls to the Veterans Crisis Line as recently as November were bounced to back-up centers run by an outside contractor. The rollover calls happen when phone lines are busy, leading to possible waits of 30 minutes or more.

It was unwelcome news for VA Secretary David Shulkin, who has made suicide prevention a signature issue. About 20 veterans take their own lives each day.

On Tuesday, the VA plans to tell the House Veterans Affairs Committee the most serious issues have been resolved.

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