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April 29, 2014

Drastic Changes Needed at Phoenix VA Health Care System

Washington D.C., April 29, 2014—Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) sent letters to Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System (PVAHCS) Director Sharon Helman and U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki asking for the resignation of Director Helman and top leadership at the Phoenix VA Facility in response to reports:

Letter to Secretary Shinseki:

“As you are aware, recent reports indicate that thousands of veterans were forced to wait on a secret list, some for over 200 days, before receiving proper care,” the letter reads.  As a direct result of such practices, the deaths of over forty veterans have come to light. These reports are extremely disturbing, and are a great disservice to our veterans.”

“After our young men and women give so much in service to this country, they should be able to rely on our VA Health Care Systems to provide them with the timely and adequate care they need,” the letter continues. “Sadly, senior leadership at the PVAHCS has shattered that trust with our nation’s heroes.”

Letter to Director Helmen: 

"Under your leadership, a ‘secret list’ or second set of books was kept, holding the official number of days that veterans waited for service artificially low.  Because of you and your leadership team’s choices, over forty veterans have died due to lack of care," the letter reads.

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

Arizona Congressmen Trent Franks and Matt Salmon have signed both letters. Full PDF versions of the letters can be read here.

In early April, a Veterans Affairs Inspector General report detailed medical care failures and administrative misconduct. Employees of the VA sought investigations of alleged failures months prior. The House Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing titled “A Continued Assessment of Delays in VA Medical Care and Preventable Veterans Death,” as a result of the ongoing investigation.

Testimonies from Veterans Affairs officials and retired PVAHCS employees have come forth in news interviews, both local and national detailing neglect of patients, severe delays in care, and misrepresentation of closed cases.


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