Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi today expressed outrage at a recent news report that an Air Force veteran, suffering from depression, was repeatedly put on hold when he called the Veterans Suicide Hotline seeking help.
“Putting a veteran who is considering suicide on hold for 10 minutes or more is unconscionable,” said Fiocchi, R-Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic. “The VA’s treatment of our veterans is deplorable. With scandal after scandal, it’s apparent not much progress has been made in getting sufficient, quality help for the men and women who valiantly served our country.
“We recently discovered that South Jersey veterans have to wait twice as long for an appointment at the Vineland VA clinic than the national average. Nearly one out of 16 appointments required a wait of nearly more than a month,” continued Fiocchi. “Now, we’re learning the VA’s suicide hotline is making veterans wait as long as 36 minutes before someone answers their call. It’s shameful their government has turned its back on them. It’s time for the VA to step up and stop this gross mistreatment of veterans.”
The Air Force veteran was initially put on hold for 10 minutes before hanging up and calling the Veterans Suicide Hotline two more times. When he did get through he said the counselor provided little comfort. Another vet was put on hold for 36 minutes. Veteran Affairs data shows that 22 veterans commit suicide every day.