VA touts improved vets crisis line, opens new call center

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From Stripes.com

VA touts improved vets crisis line, opens new call center

by: Nikki Wentling | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: December 21, 2016

WASHINGTON —The Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday officially dedicated a new call center for its veterans crisis line — an addition that’s nearly doubled the agency’s capacity to help suicidal veterans and servicemembers.

The dedication of the new call center, located in Atlanta, comes at the end of a year in which it was revealed the crisis line was sending calls to voicemail or rolling them over to a backup call center.

"Today we follow through on our commitment to give those who save lives every day at the crisis line the training, additional staff and modern call center technology they need to make the veterans crisis line a gold standard operation,” VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson, who attended the ribbon-cutting Tuesday, said in a written statement.

The Atlanta facility will have 200 responders who will be able to handle 600 calls daily. They’ve joined 310 responders at the VA’s other call center in upstate New York to answer calls, texts and online messages from veterans, servicemembers and their families. VA officials did not say how many calls they receive each day, overall.

Though the hub wasn’t dedicated until Tuesday, employees in Atlanta started work in October.

As of Dec. 8, the crisis line was answering 44 percent more calls than it was in March, according to the VA. But calls are still being rolled over to backup call centers.

Read more at: http://www.stripes.com/1.445434