Official: One-third of calls to VA suicide hotline roll over

Young soldier suffering from depression after war

Young soldier suffering from depression after war

WASHINGTON — More than one-third of calls to a suicide hotline for troubled veterans are not being answered by front-line staffers because of poor work habits and other problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

That’s according to the hotline’s former director, who complained in emails that some workers handle fewer than five calls per day and leave before their shifts end, even as call volumes increase.

Greg Hughes is the former director of the Veterans Crisis Line. He says 35 to 40 percent of crisis calls roll over to back-up centers where workers have less training to deal with veterans’ problems.

Hughes left his post in June, weeks after sending the emails. The VA says it is increasing staff at the New York-based hotline and opening a new hub in Atlanta.

The toll-free hotline number is 800-273-8255.