Veteran Kills Self, Suicide Call Went To VA Voicemail

| by Michael Allen
US VeteranUS Veteran

Thomas Young, a veteran living in Illinois, called the VA's Veterans Crisis Line in July 2015, but got sent to voicemail.

Young's brother said his 30-year-old sibling called the hotline on July 22 or 23, 2015, and subsequently laid down in front of a train near Chicago on July 23, 2015 and was killed, reported The Daily Caller.

The Veterans Crisis Line returned Young's distraught phone call the next day.

Young is survived by his wife and two daughters.

After two tours of Iraq, Young returned to the U.S. in 2004 with severe PTSD, but was reportedly turned away from the VA hospital in Hines, Illinois, due to a lack of space and because he wasn't suicidal.

Young tried to get into the VA hospital after some failed suicide attempts, but was placed on a waiting list.

Young's story was disclosed by Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois during a Congressional hearing on March 3.

In response, VA undersecretary Dr. David Shulkin called Young's situation “totally unacceptable” and admitted that “there was a two-week period of time where calls went to voicemail,” which Shulkin blamed on an unidentified government contractor.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General released a report on Feb. 11 that said: "[W]e found 3 of the 41 complaints made to the [Veterans Crisis Line] in FY 2014 were claims that calls were transferred to a voicemail system.

"Our review identified over 20 calls that were routed to voicemail at one of the backup centers. When [Veterans Crisis Line] management investigated these complaints, they discovered that the backup center staff were not aware the voicemail system existed; thus, they did not return these calls."

Scripps News noted in February that if the Veterans Crisis Line is busy, the calls are supposed to go to one of five back-up centers.

Julianne Mullane, acting program manager for the Veterans Crisis Line since January, denied that the backup system was not working.

“The struggle is constantly to keep up our quality, because every single one is life or death,” Mullane told Scripps News.

It is not known exactly how many calls go unanswered. The news service asked for detailed call records from the VA, but the VA has not provided the requested information.

(Note: The veteran pictured above is not Thomas Young.)

Sources: The Daily Caller, Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector GeneralScripps News via KJRH / Photo credit: Sgt. Amanda Tucker/

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