The VA scandal: A critical firing
The firing of Sharon Helman, who presided over falsified patient waiting lists and the deaths of at least 40 veterans awaiting treatment as director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, is but one of many steps toward the thorough housecleaning needed to restore trust in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Ms. Helman denied knowledge of the fake waiting lists and maintained she had found no link between them and veterans’ deaths just before being placed on administrative leave in May. Helman was paid more than $90,000 since. VA Secretary Bob McDonald says criminal investigations must finish before such firings. But in determining the fates of others who betrayed the VA’s sacred mission, he must minimize such insults to taxpayers, which add to the injuries done to veterans and their families.
The American Legion’s national commander told The Washington Times that “additional consequences” beyond firings must be imposed where warranted, including criminal charges. Nor can the VA afford to leave any scandalous stone unturned. As retired Phoenix VA whistle-blower Dr. Samuel Foote told The Associated Press, “I think there are a lot of others who need to follow (Helman) out the door.”
Helman’s firing must be just one step in a dramatic top-to-bottom VA overhaul. And only when veterans and their families can trust the VA again will that overhaul be complete.