The VA Crisis hotline is in the news once again. This time Gregory Hughes, the newly appointed directer tasked to improve the VA response times and decrease the number of dropped calls has resigned. He started the job in January 2016 and now is quitting amid what is suspected to be another scandal due to the text message response issues. According to Military Times,
According to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday, 73 percent of calls made to the crisis line during a two-month period in 2015 were answered within the VA’s standard of 30 seconds — a response time that ensures the call is answered in the VA’s Canandaigua, New York, call center and not routed to a backup center.
But emails from Hughes to his staff in early May 2016 indicate that matters only got worse — roughly half the calls received at the Crisis Line rolled over to the backup centers because they weren’t answered within 30 seconds.
By late May, those figures had improved, to between 35 percent and 40 percent, but still were above the GAO estimate of 27 percent, according to the emails.
“If we continue to rollover calls because we have staff that are not making an honest effort, then we are failing at our mission,” Hughes wrote.
GAO also found that text messages to the center went unanswered. Four of 14 messages, or 28 percent, texted to the center in a test by GAO did not receive a response. Of the remaining 10 test text messages, eight received responses within two minutes and two within five minutes, according to the report.
The agency also noted that VA does not routinely test its system and relies on its provider to track the information.