News / World

Obama signs bill to improve crisis hotline

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that seeks to ensure all telephone calls and other communications delivered through a Department of Veterans Affairs' crisis line get answered in a timely manner by a qualified person.

The legislation signed Monday comes after federal investigators substantiated allegations that some calls went into a voicemail system and that some veterans didn't get immediate assistance.

The bill creates a quality assurance process. It requires the VA to develop a plan to ensure any communication to the crisis line or a backup centre is quickly handled by someone in accordance with guidance established by the American Association of Suicidology.

Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, the bill's sponsor, says those who sacrificed in defence of "our freedoms" deserve the best mental health care possible.