New VA hotline chief has a history of dropped calls from veterans

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VAA former Air Force officer chosen to fix the VA’s problem-plagued suicide hotline has been running other agency phone banks that have a poor record of service, dropping as many as one in five calls from veterans, according to internal data provided to USA TODAY.

The deputy secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Sloan Gibson, defended the choice of Matthew Eitutus overseeing the crisis hotline, telling USA TODAY Friday that Eitutus has shown considerable initiative for one of the agency’s biggest challenges — just answering the phone.

The crisis hotline (800-273-8255), created in 2007 to deal with rising numbers of veterans threatening suicide, was acclaimed in an Oscar-winning documentary last year, but last month was revealed in an inspector general report to have allowed calls to go to voicemail.

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