Veterans Crisis Line Experiences Brief Outage Due to Phone Carrier Technical Issues

A sign for the Military and Veterans Crisis Line.
A sign for the Military and Veterans Crisis Line reading “Dial 988 then Press 1” is seen at the entrance to the Nebraska National Guard air base in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Sept. 9, 2022. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Lisa Crawford)

Some callers to the Veterans Crisis Line faced difficulties Tuesday reaching the Department of Veterans Affairs directly through the service's "Press 1" option, an issue VA officials said was resolved within hours.

The VA placed alerts across its websites and social media early Tuesday evening after learning of problems with the service, which officials said were the result of an "external issue" outside the crisis line's control and were specific to a technical glitch at a phone carrier's facility in Indiana.

The disruption happened the same day as widespread outages of AT&T cellular networks across the country but was not related to those problems, according to the VA.

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"VA immediately worked with our partners to address the issue, informed veterans about the challenge and provided them with other options to reach the Veterans Crisis Line, and fully resolved the issue the same day," Terrence Hayes, the VA's deputy assistant secretary for public affairs, said in a statement to

According to Hayes, the VA identified 184 callers who had issues reaching the Veterans Crisis Line and has contacted 171 of them. He added that it was actively trying to reach the remaining 13 callers on Wednesday "to make sure they get the support they need."

    The Veterans Crisis Line receives an average of nearly 2,500 calls a day. Since launching the dial 988, Press 1 number in July 2022, the line has fielded 1.5 million calls, as well as hundreds of thousands of text and chat messages. To date, call volume this fiscal year is up 11% from this time the previous year, according to data provided by the VA.

    In 2021, the most recent year for which numbers were available, 6,392 veterans took their own lives, an increase of 1.8% over 2021, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs' annual suicide report published in 2023.

    The last major crash of the Crisis Line occurred in December 2022, affecting not only the Veterans Crisis Line but the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Disaster Distress Helpline.

    That issue involved the contractor, Intrado, which manages crisis responses for the national 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

    Hayes said after resolving the issue and providing options to veterans who needed to use the service, the Veterans Crisis Line's Press 1 option was restored.

    "[The Veterans Crisis Line] remains fully operational, and ongoing testing of 988, Press 1 today shows sustained resolution," Hayes said.

    Veterans or loved ones whose veterans are experiencing a mental health crisis and are in need of emergency help can reach the service by dialing 988 and pressing 1; by calling their local VA medical center and pressing 7; by texting 838255; by going to the website; or by dialing 1-800-MYVA411 and pressing 7.

    And they always can call 988 and request to be transferred to the Veterans Crisis Line, according to the VA.

    "We will ... as always, work to ensure that veterans get access to the lifesaving support they need in moments of crisis," Hayes said.

    Related: A Suicidal Veteran Texted the VA Crisis Line. A Responder Didn't Send Help, and Minutes Later the Veteran Was Dead.

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