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News : VA Call Center Failing to Help Many Homeless Veterans
Dec 3, 2014 -- Helping homeless veterans is one of the top priorities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, which set a goal of eliminating veteran homelessness by next year. It would help if veterans actually could reach someone at the call center set up to help them.
About one of every four veterans who called in fiscal year 2013 could not reach a counselor and had to leave a message on an answering machine, according to an audit released Wednesday by the VA inspector general.
Many veterans who left those messages could not be referred to VA medical facilities because their messages were inaudible or lacked contact information, while others weren't referred to facilities even when they did provide all of the necessary information, the audit found.
And when the call center did make referrals, homeless vets still did not always get the services they needed because the call center didn't follow up on the referrals.
"In total, we identified 40,500 missed opportunities where the call center either did not refer the homeless veterans’ calls to medical facilities or it closed referrals without ensuring homeless veterans had received needed services from VA medical facilities," the audit said.
The inspector general recommended the call center stop using an answering machine and implement a system to ensure vets who call receive services. The VA agreed with those recommendations, according to the audit, which you can read here.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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More Editorial From Department Of Veterans Affairs
About Department Of Veterans Affairs:
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is the United States government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense. With a total 2009 budget of about $87.6 billion, VA employs nearly 280,000 people at hundreds of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, clinics, and benefits offices and is responsible for administering programs of veterans’ benefits for veterans, their families, and survivors. In 2012, the proposed budget for Veterans Affairs was $132 billion. The VA 2014 Budget request for 2014 is $152.7 billion. This includes $66.5 billion in discretionary resources and $86.1 billion in mandatory funding. The discretionary budget request represents an increase of $2.7 billion, or 4.3 percent, over the 2013 enacted level.
Published: Thursday, December 4, 2014