Report: Veterans Crisis Line Fielding Record Amount of Calls, Some Point to Bungled Afghanistan Withdrawal

US soldiers stand guard behind barbed wire as Afghans sit on a roadside near the military
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

The Veterans Crisis Line fielded a record number of calls, texts, and chats in March — the highest amount of monthly contacts ever, according to a recent report.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) suicide hotline received more than 88,000 calls, texts, and chats in March, according to a report by NBC News.

March’s figures were nearly 28% higher than during the busiest month in the first 10 months of the pandemic, and 15% higher than August 2021, when calls surged after the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, the report said.

“We’re on the front end of a mental health tsunami,” Scott Mann, a retired Army Green Beret lieutenant colonel, told NBC News.

As far as yearly data, annual contacts increased from about 775,000 in 2020 to nearly 896,000 in 2022, VA statistics obtained by the outlet show.

The VA claimed in a statement that “no particular data that can be pointed to in order to fully explain the increases,” and that a combination of factors, including outreach campaigns and the launch of the crisis line’s new 988 phone number, most likely led more people to use the hotline.

According to a survey released by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), nearly 49% of veterans are suffering from trauma as a result of the events of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the report said.

Mann said the end of the war in Afghanistan “took me right back to that place.”

WATCH: Gen. H.R. McMaster: Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Was ‘Surrender to a Terrorist Organization’:

“It got pretty dark for me,” said Mann, who had helped organize the departure of Afghanistan interpreters at risk of being killed by the Taliban during the withdrawal. “The depression came on really hard because of the way the war ended, because of the way our leaders abandoned our allies, and how we were left holding the phone.”

Another veteran, Army veteran Matt Zeller, said he and many others are “tormented by extreme guilt over leaving behind tens of thousands of Afghan interpreters and allies — an invisible wound he called a moral injury,” the report said.

Mann said since the end of the Afghanistan War, he has lost three friends to suicide. Zeller said he knew of five.

“I stopped tracking,” he told NBC News. “I stopped asking the question.”

WATCH: NBC’s De Luce: Biden Afghanistan Report Omits Fact They Had Months of Warnings to Start Evacuation:

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has expressed no regret about the chaotic end of war in Afghanistan, which saw Kabul fall to Taliban forces after 20 years of American fighting and bloodshed.

Thirteen American service members and dozens more Afghans were killed in the evacuation after a suicide bomber approached them at Abbey Gate of the Kabul airport, where the U.S. military was forced to conduct the hasty withdrawal.

The Biden administration has blamed the Trump administration for negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban — one they claim they had to honor. They have also blamed bad intelligence for not predicting the rapid fall of Kabul.



WATCH: ABC’s Bruce: Biden Is Blaming Trump for Afghanistan Withdrawal He Called a ‘Success’:

In a recent press conference that was widely mocked, Biden administration spokesman John Kirby claimed that he did not see chaos during the withdrawal, which saw Afghans try to bum rush departing planes, even clinging to the wheels and falling to their deaths.

More recently, Breitbart News reported that a former senior Trump defense official testified that some unvetted Afghans evacuated to the U.S. were found to have been improvised explosive device emplacers in a defense biometric database.

Follow Breitbart News’s Kristina Wong on Twitter, Truth Social, or on Facebook.


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