Three PHX VA officials stripped of titles

Posted at 2:53 PM, Jun 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-08 20:07:21-04

Three senior officials for the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System have been stripped of their titles three months after VA proposed their removal for failure to execute their duties. 

On Wednesday, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson announced the removal Lance Robinson, the facility's Associate Director, Brad Curry, Chief of Health Administration Service, and Dr. Darren Deering, Chief of Staff, for negligent performance of duties and failure to provide effective oversight to ensure veterans were either properly scheduled for appointments or placed on an appropriate waiting list.

"We have an obligation to Veterans and the American people to take appropriate accountability actions as supported by evidence," Gibson said. "While this process took far too long, the evidence supports these removals and sets the stage for moving forward."

A national scandal erupted two years ago over secret waiting lists and unnecessary deaths at the Phoenix veterans hospital.

Robinson, Curry and Deering all have the option to appeal their dismissals, but they will not be paid during the appeals process.

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) released the following statement about Wednesday’s announcement: 

"This news is alarmingly overdue. Failed leaders must be held accountable, but something is very wrong when it takes more than two years to do so. When the Phoenix VA scandal was exposed, it sparked anger and calls for action across the country. But we have yet to see full accountability, and the VA still struggles with systemic problems. We cannot rest until these problems are rooted out and the system is working for our veterans. I've been focused on efforts that protect whistleblowers and expand access to care - especially for Arizona's rural and tribal veterans - and there's more work to be done. I said it after the scandal broke in 2014, and I'll say it again today: Long after cable-news networks turn their attention elsewhere, we must stay focused on fixing a broken system, holding people accountable and getting our veterans the care they deserve."