VA to shorten hold times by hanging up on callers automatically

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to tackle the problem of long call wait times by automatically disconnecting calls that keep a veteran on hold for 30 minutes, sources confirmed today.

“For too long, we have kept our nation’s veterans in an unending limbo of hold music and meaningless reminders that ‘their call is important to us,’” VA Secretary David Shulkin said. “But starting today, your call is important to us no more."

“Let’s be honest: if we haven’t gotten to the call after half an hour, you may as well get on with your day.”

Shulkin noted that the Congressional Budget Office said the new program would shorten the average hold time for veterans to 29.9999999 minutes, down from 481.73 in the third quarter of 2014, the last year for which records were not lost when hard drives were mistakenly smashed to bits with pile drivers, then burned and dumped in a disused uranium mine.

“Redialing resets the clock,” Shulkin added repeatedly. “Redialing resets the clock.”

The VA contracted with a consultant who conducted a $47 million, year-long study of the VA’s phone records. It found more veterans were dying on hold with call centers than in VA Clinic waiting rooms. Shulkin called it “a staggering number, considering our in-person casualty rate.”

“After a $16 million pilot program in Ottumwa, Iowa, we actually found that hanging up on veterans led to improved health outcomes.”

Rand Corp. analyst John Tyler explained, “We know that sitting is one of the leading indicators of a whole host of diseases — heart problems, impotence, obesity, diabetes.”

“Well, we were forcing veterans to remain sedentary for five, six, even ten hours a day in the very faint hope that their call might be answered — eventually.”

Tyler says that veterans who were hung up on got so angry, their heart rates accelerated, their breathing increased, and their agitation led them to physical activity just to calm down.

“Average cholesterol dropped 43 points in the study group,” Tyler said. “803 guys stopped renewing their Viagra prescriptions.”

“Female vets began laying off the mid-morning Chardonnay.”

Tyler says the only worry for the VA now is that too much improved health “is bad for business.”

“Gotta keep the appropriations flowing, and healthy veterans don’t buy mama any new paintings.”