The high increase in calls to the Veterans Crisis Line after the Taliban gained power in Afghanistan and the catastrophic Kabul airport bombing, which killed 13 U.S. service members, has concerned the leaders of veterans affairs committees in Congress.
The Afghanistan situation is already taking a “tremendous toll” on veterans, indicated by the high number of calls to the Veterans Crisis Line, which are expected to keep rising, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Rep. Mike Bost, (R-Illinois) stated.
As the Taliban took over Afghanistan in mid-August, calls to the Veterans Crisis Line have surged, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Since August 13, the Veterans Crisis Line has seen an average daily rate rise of 6 percent for calls, 83 percent for texts, and 40 percent for chat messages.
The line has been promoted as a public resource, with people not in distress utilizing it to express general support for veterans or look for ways to contribute to relief efforts, which have contributed to some of the volume.
The Pentagon claims that over 800,000 Americans have fought in Afghanistan since October 2001.
Olya Voytovich, a spokesperson for Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), stated that the committee is continually engaged with the VA to ensure that it can handle the “increased demand” for its services such as the crisis line.
Moreover, House Member Mike Bost is “calling on Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Takano to bring us back to D.C. so we can meet with Secretary McDonough and leaders in the veteran community and do everything we can to mitigate the strain this disaster is putting on veterans and their families.”
“I want every veteran to know that their service was not in vain, and the world is a better place for it,” he said.
Sen. Jerry Moran, (R-Kan.), the leading member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has asked Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough for prompt responses on the VA’s plans and preparations to help veterans during and after the pullout from Afghanistan.
Moran sent Sec. McDonough a letter last week, asking for a response by Sept. 13.
“The planning to care for our veterans must not replicate the disastrous lack of planning connected with our withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Moran said in a statement obtained by Fox News.
However, congressional members are optimistic about the life-saving effort by courageous veterans who are assisting their fellow soldiers and Afghan allies.
A few days earlier, a group of U.S. veterans of the Afghan war has drawn admiration by voluntarily risking their lives on a night mission to rescue hundreds of Afghan allies threatened by the Taliban.
They were retired Green Beret veterans, former special operators, aid workers, and intelligence officers who created Task Force Pineapple, which coordinated with military forces at Kabul airport and the embassy, ABC News reported Aug. 27.
After well-planned stealthy actions, they could lead 630 Afghan allies and their families through the enemy forces and into the airport.
Task Force Pineapple carried out its risky mission when the ISIS attack occurred, killing at least 13 U.S. service members and injuring 15 others.