A division of the Department of Veterans Affairs tasked with fixing up the VA's broken veteran suicide hotline has dropped roughly 1.4 million phone calls from veterans since fiscal year 2015, a VA whistleblower told the Washington Examiner.
That high number of abandoned calls is raising questions about whether the VA is doing all it can to fix up the suicide hotline, which has been criticized as the latest part of the VA that is failing veterans.
Scott Davis, a whistleblower and program specialist at the VA's Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta, noted that the VA's Health Resource Center is slated to take over the VA's suicide hotline. But according to data provided by Davis, the Health Resource Center is dropping hundreds of thousands of calls from veterans each year.
According to internal data provided by Davis, the center was on pace to abandon about 900,000 veterans' calls in 2015. His data spanned the last 11 months of fiscal year 2015, and showed that 824,000 calls were unanswered or dropped.
The center was abandoning about 15 percent of all calls it received that year. Calls to the Health Resource Center deal with a range of issues faced by veterans, such as questions about eligibility and benefits.
Davis' data also show that in fiscal 2016 so far, the center has dropped more than 500,000 calls, for a total of roughly 1.4 million calls in the last 18 months.
The leader of the Health Resource Center is Matthew Eitutis, a former Air Force officer. He's been in charge of the Health Resource Center for the last two years.
USA Today reported last week that about one in five calls have been dropped by the center. The abandoned call rate was 15.6 percent in 2015, and 19.9 percent in 2016 so far.