mishima1 severed headSharon Helman, the Director of the VA Medical Center in Phoenix, was fired this week. She was suspended (with full pay, so “placed on vacation” is more like it) back in April when it came out that she’d destroyed evidence in the agency’s cover-up of the deaths of dozens of neglected veterans. Seven months’ pay for doing nothing sounds like a rip-off of the vets and taxpayers, but it could have been worse: she could have been being paid for going in to work, and we’ve already seen how that worked out.

Lawmakers and veterans groups have demanded the firing of Sharon Helman since whistleblowers first reported that Phoenix VA medical staff manipulated data to hide the hospital was failing to meet the needs of veterans seeking care.

The VA’s Inspector General’s Office concluded that the delays in care contributed to the deaths of more than 30 veterans.

“Lack of oversight and misconduct by VA leaders runs counter to our mission of serving veterans, and VA will not tolerate it,” VA Secretary Bob McDonald said in a prepared statement on Monday.

We will not tolerate it, he said, any longer than seven more months after she was exposed. He said he was going to hold people accountable. This is one, and it’s one whose performance was so egregious that if she were the administrator of a civilian hospital, the battle her attorneys would be fighting now would be to get her bail. 

VA-veterans-affairsBut vets aren’t worth what civilians are, and a bunch of insiders with government jobs are always loath to punish a fellow insider, especially by cleaving him or her from his or her government job.

You know, Start the tumbrils rolling, they think, and maybe I’m next. Can’t have that.

A few dead vets are a small price to pay for the comfort of a bureaucracy.

McDonald has named Glenn Grippen, a former director of the VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as interim director of the Phoenix system. Grippen had retired from the VA in 2011 while director of the Rocky Mountain regional VA network, according to The Arizona Republic.

Yes, because the best way to deal with pervasive mis-, mal-, and non-feasance as a feature of VA culture is to select one of the same old individuals steeped in that same old culture.

The good news? We’ll have plenty of VA scandal stories to write in 2015. The bad news? Same thing.

McDonald said he would name a new permanent director as soon as possible.

Though the IG found data manipulation of patient appointments, a systemic problem across the VA, Helman became the focus of frustration and anger from veterans’ service groups and lawmakers.

Previous VA Secretary Eric Shinseki ordered Helman and other officials put on paid administrative leave shortly after news of the data manipulation and patient deaths surfaced.

via VA Fires Phoenix Hospital Director after Wait Times Scandal | Military.com.

“After,” indeed. Long time after. That’s like saying the Apollo Program came after the Cretaceous Era — technically true, but it implies a taut connection that isn’t there.

This entry was posted in Veterans’ Issues on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

6 thoughts on “One Head Finally Rolls at VA


can we please get rid of the person at the VA who decided i’m not really a vet, and never even responded to my initial application for care of the problems caused by my various severe injuries received all those years with the ARNG?

they told me over the phone that i didn’t have enough AD time to qualify for anything, even service related injuries.

guess that Retired Reserve ID card and my 20 year letter are just movie props, eh?


Put a tail on her.

Even odds she pops up in government service again sooner or later.

Once acquired, the habituation is harder to kick than heroin.

Hognose Post author

The gal who was fired from DOD because all her degrees were from an unaccredited diploma mill (send in money, get degree) was later hired as an SES at Homeland Security. They’re all bozos at homeland security, some of them retreaded bozos like that.


Doubtless on the strength of her years of experience at DoD.

Which goes back to the point: that VA-fired woman will obtain another .gov-teat sinecure, sure as God made little green apples, and again, based in no small part on her resume of (mis)administering a VA facility, and to a near metaphysical certainty, after a sheep-dipping stint as someone’s “healthcare advisory taskforce consultant” for the next year or two, while the dust settles.

As we know, it’s simply how the logs get rolled.

That’s why someone needs to tie a metaphorical can to her tail, so she can retire to Nowhereville with her cats, unemployable until she’s too old to hire for anything.

And that, only because a proper limo ride in a tumbrel to the block isn’t currently in vogue.

More’s the pity.

Tom Stone

The only surprise is that someone is being held more or less accountable. I have been visiting friends and relatives in VA hospitals since I was a small child in the 1950’s and my sweetheart was a VA nurse for quite a few years until she quit in disgust.

Veterans are being treated a little worse than they have been for most of the last 50 years, as long as they die somewhere quietly out of sight and don’t disturb the “Right people” it’s not a problem.

Yes, I am just a tad bitter.

Bill K

Therefore, don’t veterans these days with 2 brain cells to rub together catch a clue and avoid the VA like the plague? Not to insult veterans, but how many times must a man watch the same farce over and over and expect different results?