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September 5, 2015

Posts in "Veterans Affairs"

November 24, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Fires Head of Phoenix System Sharon Helman

Robert McDonald announced the firing of Sharon Helman Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Robert McDonald announced the latest firing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Department of Veterans Affairs has fired Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix VA Healthcare System.

The decision “followed an investigation by the VA Office of Inspector General in which allegations of lack of oversight and other misconduct were substantiated,” the department said in a press release on Monday. “This removal action underscores VA’s commitment to hold leaders accountable and ensure that Veterans have access to quality and timely care.”

“Lack of oversight and misconduct by VA leaders runs counter to our mission of serving Veterans, and VA will not tolerate it,” said Secretary Robert A. McDonald, who is recently on the job himself after President Barack Obama ushered out Eric Shineski.

“We depend on VA employees and leaders to put the needs of Veterans first and honor VA’s core values of ‘Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence.’” Full story

June 30, 2014

Robert McDonald Nomination May Stem the Bleeding in VA Health Scandal (Video)

President Barack Obama’s pick of Robert McDonald as secretary of Veterans Affairs earned quick plaudits from Republicans in Congress Sunday — a welcome bit of good news for a White House that has been besieged by the VA scandal.

McDonald supported Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election and has donated to Republican congressional candidates, including Speaker John A. Boehner and Sen. Rob Portman in his native Ohio, and his selection marks an attempt by Obama to move the VA issue past the partisan football it has become on Capitol Hill.

As stories of bureaucratic incompetence continue to flood in — including White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors’ damning June 27 portrait of a “corrosive culture” at the VA — there’s no shortage of repair work to be done for an agency critical to the health of millions.

The new secretary will have to oversee an upgrade to the agency’s nearly 30-year-old computer scheduling system and a culture reset, along with needing to react to investigations that now touch 77 of the sprawling VA facilities.

McDonald’s confirmation can be considered all-but-assured, barring anything showing up in background vetting by Congress. Full story

June 27, 2014

Rob Nabors Cites ‘Corrosive Culture’ in VA Scandal

Rob Nabors VA health care scandal report

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors found “a corrosive culture” and inadequate resources contributed to the VA health care scandal in a report he delivered to President Barack Obama Friday.

Nabors and acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan D. Gibson briefed Obama on their latest findings and actions taken to date — including new protections for whistleblowers and $393 million in spending to accelerate care.

“A corrosive culture has led to personnel problems across the department that are seriously impacting morale, and by extension, the timeliness of care,” the Nabors’ report says. Full story

May 30, 2014

Obama Announces Eric Shinseki’s Resignation (Updated) (Video)

Eric Shinseki Veterans Affairs Secretary

Shinseki resigned Friday. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:53 a.m. | President Barack Obama announced Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation Friday morning, following numerous calls from Congress for new leadership in the wake of the VA scandal.

Shinseki offered his resignation Friday morning, Obama announced in an impromptu press conference at the White House.

“With considerable regret, I accepted it,” the president said.

Obama named Sloan D. Gibson the acting secretary, and he said White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors would stay at the department to aid in the transition and continue his report on the VA for the president. Obama said he wants to name a new VA secretary quickly, and vowed to do what it takes to serve veterans.

“It was Rick’s judgment that he could not carry out the next stages of reform without being a distraction himself,” Obama said of Shinseki. Obama said he agreed. “We don’t have time for distractions. We need to fix the problem.” Full story

Ahead of Meeting With Obama, Shinseki Apologizes for VA Scandal, Asks Congress for Help

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki apologizes for VA Scandal, does not resign Obama Congress

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10 a.m. | Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized for the scandal rocking his department Friday, but he did not resign ahead of a meeting with President Barack Obama this morning.

“I apologize,” to Congress, the public and to the veterans, Shinseki said — calling the findings of systemic shortcomings in VA health care unacceptable.

“Leadership and integrity problems can and must be fixed, and now,” he said, announcing a series of changes that include plans to remove any leader who tolerated deception in scheduling practices.

Obama said in a taped interview airing this morning on “Live With Kelly and Michael” that he plans to have a “serious conversation” with Shinseki about whether he has the capacity to fix the VA’s problems.

“I don’t want any veteran to not be getting the kind of services they deserved,” the president said.
Full story

May 29, 2014

No Vote of ‘Confidence’ in Eric Shinseki From Carney

Eric Shinseki Veterans Affairs Secretary

Shinseki (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Confidence” is the one word the White House isn’t willing to say it has in Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Press Secretary Jay Carney faced a flood of questions Thursday about vulnerable Democrats jumping ship and calling for Shinseki to resign in the wake of the blistering inspector general report released Wednesday. Carney deflected by doing a big bear hug of President Barack Obama’s statement last week, when Obama also did not say whether he had “confidence” in his secretary.

Carney repeatedly refused to answer when pressed to say “yes” or “no” about whether the president had “confidence” in Shinseki. Full story

May 21, 2014

Obama Demands Improvements at VA, but Doesn’t Fire Shinseki (Video)

President Barack Obama is demanding that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki make immediate improvements for veterans

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated 2:07 p.m. | President Barack Obama is demanding that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki make immediate improvements for veterans, but has decided not to fire him, for now, as a scandal over allegations of manipulated wait time reports spreads to dozens of facilities.

“If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period,” Obama said in a statement in the White House briefing room, followed by a brief news conference.

Obama promised accountability and punishments for anyone found responsible for misconduct at VA facilities. And when asked about a possible Shinseki resignation, Obama said he wanted to see the reports come back on how widespread problems were at the department.

He said he expects a preliminary report back from Shinseki next week, and said White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors has been tasked with providing a broader report on VA health care next month.

Full story

Obama to Make Statement on VA Crisis After Meeting With Shinseki, Nabors

Updated 10:09 a.m. | President Barack Obama will make a statement at 10:45 a.m. after meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors at the White House as the VA crisis continued to mushroom overnight. Full story

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