Congress backs bill requiring timely answers at VA hotline

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs would have to ensure that all telephone calls and messages received by a crisis hotline are answered in a timely manner under a bill on its way to the president.

The Senate on Wednesday gave final legislative approval to the measure. It comes after a report that more than one-third of calls to a hotline for troubled veterans are not being answered by front-line staffers because of poor work habits and other problems.

The hotline’s former director says calls frequently roll over to back-up centers where workers have less training to deal with veterans’ problems.

Republican Rep. David Young of Iowa sponsored the bill, saying “a veteran in need cannot wait for help.”

The toll-free hotline number is 800-273-8255.

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