A new call center in Georgia is now part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs plight to prevent veteran suicide, the Union-Recorder reports.
The call center, located in DeKalb County outside of Atlanta, is a part of the National Veterans Crisis hotline.
It is one of two like it in the U.S.
The first facility, located in upstate New York, participated in an Oscar-winning documentary titled “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” which told the story of how the call center helped veterans in dire need.
Despite the acclaim for the documentary, the hotline itself has received criticism for serious issues such as long delays before answering, calls going to voice mail, and subpar support from employees.
To address these concerns, President Obama signed a law requiring more oversight.
“We’re convinced that what we’re doing at the (crisis line) is going to make a difference,” said Matt Eitutis, the Veterans Health Administration Acting Executive Director for Member Services. “We are saving and changing lives.”
The new call center in Georgia should help the New York facility handle the significant number of callers desperately seeking help.
Since the New York facility was the only operating crisis hotline call center, it had to turn to private contractors to help manage the significant volume of callers.
According to a VA inspector general’s report in February 2016, this caused issues with service, voice mail roll over, answer delays, and dispatch training for the veterans in immediate danger of harming themselves.
Georgia’s new call center should significantly increase the hotline’s ability to help prevent veteran suicide.