WASHINGTON (AP) — More than one-third of calls to a suicide hotline for troubled veterans are not being answered by front-line staffers because of poor work habits and other problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

That’s according to the hotline’s former director, who complained in emails that some workers handle fewer than five calls per day and leave before their shifts end even as call volumes increased.

Greg Hughes, the former director of the Veterans Crisis Line, said 35 to 40 percent of crisis calls roll over to back-up centers where workers have less training to deal with veterans’ problems.

Hughes left his post in June, weeks after sending the emails. The VA says it is increasing staff at the New York-based hotline and opening a new hub in Atlanta.

Hawaii U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard’s office reported later Monday that she spoke on the House floor urging passage of H.R. 5392, the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act.

The congresswoman is a cosponsor of the bill to help increase responsiveness and performance of the Veterans Crisis Line, the 24-hour, free and confidential hotline for veterans in need of suicide prevention and crisis resources.

The bill passed the House unanimously Monday evening.

Gabbard said “just a few days ago, a Hawaii veteran called the National Veterans Crisis Line for the first time, and waited 24 minutes before her call was answered. Others who call in are met with a voicemail message. This is unacceptable. The No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act would establish quality standards and metrics to make sure that every call to the Veterans Crisis Line is answered quickly and by a live, trained employee. With an average of 22 veterans who take their life every day, we must act. Their lives depend on it.”