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Arizona Lawmakers Ask For Permanent Director At VA

The Arizona congressional delegation has called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert MacDonald to appoint a new permanent director to the Phoenix VA. The office was at the center of a national scandal this spring over delays in patient care.  

Former Phoenix VA director Sharon Helman was put on administrative leave in May. U.S. Congressional District 9 Representative Kyrsten Sinema said previous VA secretary Eric Shinseki had started the process of firing Helman before he resigned.    

“We’re already on our second interim director and his term is set to expire in early November," Sinema said. "It would be in my opinion not in Phoenix’s best interest to have a third interim director. We need a long term director and we need one soon.”

It is VA policy to switch interim employees every 120 days. The department said, it has received the letter and will respond formally to the Congressional delegation. Sinema said the next step is meeting with Secretary McDonald in person next week. 

Alexandra Olgin was a Senior Field Correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2016.