Tags: Veterans | veterans | crisis | hotline | calls | ignored

Report: Up to 40% of VA Crisis Hotline Calls Are Ignored

Image: Report: Up to 40% of VA Crisis Hotline Calls Are Ignored

(Photo by Dominic Lipinski/Press Association via AP Images)

By    |   Monday, 26 Sep 2016 06:04 PM

More than one-third of calls to the Department of Veterans Affairs' crisis hotline are reportedly not being answered — and roll over to back-up call centers with less-experienced staff.

In an internal email, former director of the VA's Veterans Crisis Line Greg Hughes complained some hotline staffers handle fewer than five calls per day and leave before their shifts end — even as crisis calls have increased sharply, the Associated Press reports.

An average of 35 to 40 percent of crisis calls received in May rolled over to back-up centers where workers have less training to deal with veterans' problems, according to Hughes, who left last June after sending the emails, the AP reports.

The VA's goal is to answer 90 percent of calls to the Veterans Crisis Line within 30 seconds, after which they roll over to the back-up call centers, the Washington Free Beacon reports

According to the AP, the crisis hotline received more than 500,000 calls last year, 50 times the number it received in 2007, the hotline's first year of operation.

The Veterans Crisis Line has come under fire previously, including in a VA inspector general report that found at least 23 veterans, service members, or their family members who phoned the hotline during the 2014 fiscal year were sent to voicemail and were never called back.

In addition, a Government Accountability Office report found roughly 73 percent of calls reviewed from July and August of last year were answered within 30 seconds, but that nearly 30 percent of text messages that the GAO sent to the crisis line went unanswered.

In the wake of the 2014 delayed-care for veterans scandal, lawmakers have pushed for reform legislation; a vote by House lawmakers was expected Monday on a bill cosponsors to require the agency to ensure all calls and texts to the crisis hotline are answered by qualified personnel in a timely manner, the Free Beacon reports.

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More than one-third of calls to the Department of Veterans Affairs' crisis hotline are reportedly not being answered - and roll over to back-up call centers with less-experienced staff.
veterans, crisis, hotline, calls, ignored
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2016-04-26
Monday, 26 Sep 2016 06:04 PM
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