Three Arizona Congressman Call for Removal of Phoenix VA Leadership

Categories: News
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Phoenix VA director Sharon Helman (left) with a VA employee.

Three Republican congressmen from the Phoenix area are calling for the resignation or removal of everyone in a leadership position in the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System (PVAHCS).

Congressmen David Schweikert, Matt Salmon, and Trent Franks signed a letter to the Phoenix VA director asking for leadership's resignation and another letter to U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki requesting their removal. The letters come after allegations that 40 veterans died while waiting for medical appointments at the Phoenix VA system.

See also:
-Obama on Phoenix VA Claims: "We Take the Allegations Very Seriously"
-Senate Committee to Hold Hearing on Phoenix VA Allegations

There hasn't been an official finding that delays in care led to deaths at the Phoenix VA, but the Arizona Republic and CNN have published whistle-blower complaints from a retired Phoenix VA doctor. The Republic's story also mentions at least one other whistle-blower corroborates the claims of manipulated wait times, as well as an internal e-mail from an employee complaining about the "unethical" wait-times system.

The VA's inspector general is investigating the claims, but the three Arizona congressman calling for resignations and firings are doing so before the investigation is complete.

"The mistakes made by PVAHCS cannot be undone, but drastic changes need to be made to ensure that this never happens again," the letter states. "In order to begin to restore faith in the veteran's health car system, department executives who were aware of and presided over this unethical and alarming mismanagement must be held accountable. It is for this reason we demand that you and the leadership team at PVAHCS resign from all leadership positions."

Meanwhile, President Obama and the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs have vowed to take action pending the release of the inspector general's report.

Phoenix VA director Sharon Helman recently told the Republic she was shocked to hear of allegations that VA officials manipulated wait times, while 40 veterans died because of the alleged delay.

She mentioned that it's VA policy to explain to family members of loved ones who died because of lack of care by the VA. Officials told the Republic that they didn't have a single documented case of a patient dying due to delayed care.

Delays at a VA hospital aren't new, and neither are deaths resulting from those delays. Just earlier this month, the U.S. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs held a hearing titled, "A continued assessment of delays in VA medical care and preventable veteran deaths."

An assistant inspector general described big delays in colon-cancer screenings at the VA hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. The Inspector General's Office found 52 veterans received a delayed diagnosis of colon cancer, some of whom died.

The inspector general is still investigating the claims of 40 veterans dying due to delayed care in Phoenix, but the three Arizona congressmen who signed on to the letters have called for leadership's departure now.

The letters can be seen in their entirety on the next page.

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What we have here are 3 opportunist that can be considered the 3 Stooges. All three of these opportunist are always voting against any and all veteran benefits and programs. They're just like AZ's John McCain and his boy Flake

eric.nelson745 topcommenter

This is nothing new. VA hospitals are chronically understaffed and that's only one aspect of their perennially poor performance in meeting our veterans' healthcare needs. I don't know if they do it now, but whenever appropriate treatment is delayed for any reason, that should trigger an automatic referral to a civilian facility.


This is not just happening in Phoenix.  I went in a couple months ago to Flagstaff clinic and the soonest primary care appointment is in June if I get lucky (supposedly on a wait list).  Weeks after that incident I went in with a sinus infection and they wanted me to drive to Prescott from Flagstaff even though nobody at all was in the lobby during sick call and I could barely see due to my sinuses and they couldn't/wouldn't give or order anything to help.


@eric.nelson745 There's a host of problems with the referral to outsourced specialty care. Two major problems are 1) the lack of connectivity of the civilian facility to the VAMC electronic medical records. and 2) a NO VALUE added agency -- TriWest -- is inserted into the proces strictly for bureaucratic purposes. This injects numerous aspects of delays into the process of getting care delivered for veteran AND it costs money without enhancing either the care or the accountability of any aspect of the process.

The concept of Single Payer is sound. As welcome as I find the alarm being sounded by Schweikert and friends, the ultimate, fundamental problem is symbolically identified as Paul Ryan.

Massively and overwhelmingly deficient funding of the VA medical system in Phoenix (and other similar facilities throughout the country) are causing administrators to commit fraud as a criminal way of coping with those chronic funding deficienies.

The ONLY long-term solution is to demand adequate funding. That might only be possible when we can get rid of Paul Ryan and John Boehner.

danzigsdaddy topcommenter

Good enough to fight for your country, not good enough for your country to fight for

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