Busy Signal: Thousands of Homeless Veterans Couldn’t Reach VA Call Center

Thousand of homeless veterans who tried to reach the Department of Veterans Affairs national call center seeking treatment or shelter were forced to leave messages on answering machines and never received a referral or medical services, a new report by an independent watchdog found.

According to a Thursday report by the VA Inspector General, more than 21,000 homeless veterans in fiscal year 2013 were not able to get through to a VA counselor, while more than 3,000 were not referred to a VA medical facility, despite providing all the necessary information.

The call center relied on answering machines, instead of counselors, and the VA Inspector General said it “could not account for a significant amount of the counselors’ time.”

“In fact, counselors spent significant amounts of time unavailable to answer calls during peak call periods,” the report states.