Photo: US Department of Veterans Affairs

Promises made, promises kept.

Early in his term, President Donald Trump pledged to reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and its response to veterans. The promise came as national headlines revealed that 33% of veterans were sent to voicemail when trying to reach the crisis line.

Ahead of the two year anniversary of the White House VA Hotline, the office now says the line has answered more than 250,000 calls since it went live on June 1, 2017.

The Department of Veterans Affairs said Tuesday that 250,195 calls had been fileded as of May 14, 2019.

The hotline, 855-948-2311, serves Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors by giving them a direct, nonemergency, contact line available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with agents — the majority of whom are Veterans or from a Veteran family — who are trained to address general and common VA inquiries.

“The White House VA Hotline is quickly becoming VA’s front door for questions or concerns about VA and community resources,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a press release. “This milestone is a testament to VA’s commitment to improving the Veteran experience.”

Veterans are still encouraged to use their existing VA contact centers, but the hotline offers an alternative “always the right number’” approach, which assists in transferring calls when needed to VA subject matter experts, such as the Veterans Crisis Line. The hotline is described as the VA’s “front door to listen” to Veterans’ experiences, identify trends in Veteran feedback and resolve Veterans health, benefits and services concerns anywhere in the department.

The press release issued Tuesday said that more than half the calls to the hotline are general inquiries about VA’s care, benefits and memorial services. Concerns that cannot be resolved immediately are entered as cases, accessible to VA Offices of Client Relations. To date, 94% of the total 157,346 cases created have been resolved.

According to recent data from April, the average wait time to speak to a live agent was nine seconds, with calls typically lasting about 15 minutes. About 1% of all calls were compliments.

Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors can call the White House VA Hotline at 855-948-2311.

The Crisis Hotline can be reached by:

  • Dialing 1-800-273-8255 and Pressing 1 to talk to someone.
  • Sending a text message to 838255 to connect with a VA responder.
  • Starting a confidential online chat session at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
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