The chief of the Phoenix VA has been fired. Sharon Helman was in charge of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, which had been at the center of a major scandal over the past several months regarding intentional delay of patient care. Ms. Helman denied the existence of a secret list that had been used to cover up significant delays in patient care. These delays led to worsening health conditions of our veterans and even death. In fact, the Inspector General confirmed that 3,500 veterans had been waiting for appointments on one of those secret lists. In addition to the lists, the Phoenix VA also hid the length of their wait times.
In response to the firing, VA secretary Robert McDonald said, “lack of oversight and misconduct by VA leaders runs counter to our mission of serving Veterans, and VA will not tolerate it.” Ms. Helman is not the first top VA official to be fired. Since President Obama signed into law an act making it easier for such officials to be fired, three senior officials (from Pittsburgh, central Alabama, and now Phoenix) have been terminated. Two others were “proposed” for termination, but retired before such action could be taken.
What does this mean for Phoenix veterans? Hopefully it means they will now begin to receive the medical treatment they need and deserve. Unfortunately, it also means that many veterans have been neglected and may be in need of immediate treatment.