The Department of Veterans Affairs is defending the existence of a unit within the Veterans Crisis Line meant to handle difficult callers after whistleblower allegations that the unit is letting vulnerable veterans fall through the cracks.
“Our top priority with the VCL is to make sure that veterans get the support they need, whenever and wherever they need it — and we will never settle for anything less,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough wrote in a letter to Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., the ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
“VA takes any allegations of insufficient care or service seriously and will investigate thoroughly,” McDonough added in the letter, which was released by the VA on Wednesday afternoon.
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The letter came after Moran revealed Wednesday morning that several current and former VA staffers approached his office with allegations that callers to the Veterans Crisis Line, or VCL, who exhibit “disruptive behavior” are being handed off to a “callers with complex needs” unit that is understaffed and undertrained.
Furthermore, the whistleblowers allege, the system is not collecting callback information in case the callers hang up or get disconnected while they are waiting on hold for the special unit to answer.
At Moran's request, the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, is…