Walorski Questions Officials on Veteran’s Homelessness

Thursday, December 11, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02), member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, questioned Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials during a hearing on veteran’s homelessness regarding a report released last week that found a hotline established to help homeless veterans missed thousands of opportunities to provide assistance.

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report concerning the VA’s Homeless Hotline Call Center, which costs over $3 million a year, failed to answer, check on, or provide services to tens of thousands of veterans who called its help line.

Walorski, and members of the committee, heard from officials in order to determine if the VA has taken necessary actions to provide homeless and at-risk veterans with appropriate housing, healthcare, and training and employment opportunities.

“The OIG report is embarrassing to our nation’s brave men and women,” Walorski said. “Almost 50,000 veterans experience homelessness on any given night and yet we can even help the ones who reach out for help. This is another example of the persistent lack of accountability at the VA and cannot continue.”

Key findings from the report included:

  • The OIG found that of the nearly 80,000 phone calls made to the hotline, there were roughly 40,500 missed opportunities where the Call Center either did not refer the Homeless Veterans’ calls to VA medical facilities.
  • The Inspector General could not account for a significant amount of the counselors’ time.
    • Counselors often did not log in or did not spend the entire day logged into the Call Center telephone system.
    • Counselors who worked the night shift were not logged into the telephone system and were unavailable to answer calls an average of 4 hours each night.

“It’s clear this call center, which is costing American taxpayers millions of dollars, is failing our nation’s finest. I hope Secretary McDonald will move quickly to enact the recommendations from the report and look forward to receiving an update in the coming weeks and months,” said Walorski.

Click here to watch Walorski’s remarks.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District in Indiana, where she serves as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee, and House Budget Committee.

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