Dysfunctional Phoenix VA Leaders To Be Removed

Phoenix VA Executives

Benjamin KrauseThree disgraced leaders at Phoenix VA received removal proposals from VA leadership that are the first steps toward accountability for those employees. VA claims the removals must happen to allow Phoenix VA to move forward.

Yesterday, Veterans Affairs proposed removal of three of the ring leaders involved in the wait list scandal and related scandals at the struggling Phoenix VA Health Care System. Their names are Associate Director Lance Robinson, Chief of Health Administration Service Brad Curry, and Chief of Staff Dr. Darren Deering.

RELATED: VA Press Release On Removal


Recently, Lance Robinson boasted to the press that the reason he was not admonished was because he was innocent of wrongdoing. Apparently that was false.

Brad Curry was the idiotic baby executive who attempted to commit suicide by cop after he was placed on administrative leave. His daughter called 9-1-1 when he threatened suicide. The police hit him with a taser and a beanbag gun to subdue the petulant man-child.

RELATED: Flipped Out VA Exec Gets Tazed, Hit With Beanbag Gun

Curry got in trouble for calling a VA whistleblower a “mudshark” because she was white with a bi-racial child. The agency lost the workplace harassment claim against Curry at the MSPB and the damages could be in six-figures as they have been for other victims. Taxpayers will likely bear the financial burden for his racist, childlike antics.

RELATED: Racist VA Executive Calls Whistleblower A “Mudshark”

Dr. Darren Deering is the man who sat across from Sharon Helman when she tried to explain away wrongdoing linked to the wait list scandal. His culpability is obvious and removal from the facility seems like a no-brainer.

As for Sloan Gibson, the man responsible for holding such executives accountable, he indicated that the removal was warranted based on the evidence. He continued to express disappointment at how long it took to take action:

“Frankly, I am disappointed that it took as long as it did for proposed actions to be made but I am satisfied that we carefully reviewed a massive amount of evidence to ensure the accountability actions are supported. These cases have served as a distraction to the progress being made to improve the care we provide in Phoenix and across the nation. Today marks an important step in moving past the events of the past and refocusing solely on caring for our nation’s Veterans.”

I wonder how much pressure the White House and Democratic Party are applying to the agency to get it to clean up its act before the coming election cycle?

VA is clearly the albatross hanging around the neck of any Democrat running for office in an affected voting bloc. It will be interesting to see how well the new accountability laws are applied as November edges closer.

Here is the press release for your review:

VA Proposes Removal of Three Leaders at Phoenix Health Care System

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it has issued notices of proposed removal to three senior officials at the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

Today, the Department proposed the removal of Lance Robinson, the facility’s Associate Director; Brad Curry, Chief of Health Administration Service; and Dr. Darren Deering, Chief of Staff.

“It is vitally important to Veterans in Phoenix and across the nation to understand that we will take appropriate accountability action as warranted by the evidence,” said VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson. “Frankly, I am disappointed that it took as long as it did for proposed actions to be made but I am satisfied that we carefully reviewed a massive amount of evidence to ensure the accountability actions are supported. These cases have served as a distraction to the progress being made to improve the care we provide in Phoenix and across the nation. Today marks an important step in moving past the events of the past and refocusing solely on caring for our nation’s Veterans.”

In January, Gibson changed VA policy to ensure that employees who were part of administrative investigations would not be placed on paid administrative leave, instead they would be moved into non-patient care functions and continue performing other duties as assigned.

Today’s announced actions follow the appointment of a new medical center director for the Phoenix VA Health Care System (PVAHCS).  On November 20, Deborah Amdur was named Health Care System Director after serving as Medical Center Director of the White River Junction VA Medical Center in Vermont.

Since 2014, the Phoenix VA Health Care System has expanded its access to care working to effectively and timely treat Veterans with the care they have earned. Specifically. PVAHCS has:

  • Hired needed staff. Since January 2014, they have hired a net gain of more than 700 full time equivalent employees. These new employees have increased Phoenix’s ability to care for more Veterans in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Through the Veterans Access Accountability and Choice Act, Phoenix has hired 164 medical center staff fully utilizing all funding for hires through that program.
  • Extended clinic hours into evenings and weekends for primary care and mental health to leverage limited space and increase clinic time preferred by Veterans.  Phoenix clinics conducted more than 957,000 outpatient visits in FY15, which is an increase of 6.8 percent over the previous 12 month period.
  • Focused additional staff for urgent and emergency care.  PVAHCS has made a concerted effort to improve care to Veterans in the Emergency Department where patient volume has grown by roughly 80 percent since 2008. Key staff have been added, improved training has become routine and a “Fast Track” process has been implemented so Veterans with less severe needs can be seen more quickly.
  • Significantly increased needed clinical space. Last May, a new 7,000 square foot Community Based Outpatient Clinic opened in northeast Phoenix. In addition, two leases have been signed – one in west Phoenix and a Primary Care Center located within 5 miles of the main campus – both of which are expected to open this summer. Construction of a dental clinic is underway and the Health Care System has completed a 400-space parking garage addressing a regular complaint of patients.
  • Worked with medical providers in the community. They have fully implemented the Choice Program and improvements to the program are underway including co-locating TriWest staff with VA employees to improve communication and coordination of care.
  • Increased outreach to Veterans and key stakeholders.  Leadership of the Phoenix VA Health Care System regularly conduct community town halls and all-employee forums to hear needed feedback. Currently, a facility-wide campaign is underway to promote respect and safety for Veterans, visitors and staff.

Since 2014, VA has taken many actions to increase accountability and create a Veteran-centric culture:

  • VA was the first cabinet-level agency to secure certification from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) under OSC’s 2302(c) Whistleblower Protection Certification Program, which ensures that Federal agencies meet the statutory obligation to inform their workforce about the rights and remedies available to them under the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and related civil service laws.
  • As of April 2015, VA has worked closely with OSC to provide relief for VA employees who have filed whistleblower retaliation complaints, including three individuals at the VA Phoenix Health Care System.
  • VA has established the Office of Accountability Review (OAR) to ensure leadership accountability for improprieties related to patient scheduling and access to care, whistleblower retaliation, and related matters that impact public trust in VA.
  • VA established of a Department-wide program office to implement our Anti-Harassment Policy.
  • VA’s goal continues to be strengthening its culture of accountability and putting renewed focus on employee-led, Veteran-centric change. Improvements in workforce culture, with a focus on ICARE values, will allow VA to address issues as they arise, rather than necessitating employee termination following repeated and/or pervasive poor behavior.
  • Over 34,000 staff have completed the VA-developed training “Access and Scheduling Core Concepts and Business Practices” online or face-to-face.
  • All VA supervisors are required to take annual “Whistleblower Rights and Protection & Prohibited Personnel Practices” training.

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Source: https://www1.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2765

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  1. I am astounded that people really think that the problems of the VA can be blamed on four administrators at one hospital in one state. How stupid can people be that they think the problems don’t run much deeper and wider. And that these problems haven’t been going on for so much longer than these administrators have even been working. You think if these people are fired, the problems will end? It’s stories like these and Trump and Hillary that make me just want to throw up my hands!!

  2. Hey Elf, and everyone else.

    I have been looking into the fact that VA Health Care Facilities across the country have been replacing Chief of Staffs at the VA facilities with personal that are also employed by institutions that are doing research using Veterans at the VA Facilities. That way the research organization has control over the staffing budget and also controls the staffing and personnel at the VA Facilities.

    When I stated looking into Dr. Darren Deering I found that there has been a major security breach with all Veterans medical records. The breach involves the release of all Veterans Medical records to a company named Hamad Medical Corporation located in Doha, Qatar, Hamad Healthcare Quality Institute, also located in Doha, Qatar and The Weill Cornell Medical College located both in Doha, Qatar and in New York, NY.

    Let be me make this clear Dr. Darren Deering is not responsible for the release of all Veterans Medical records to the organizations based in Doha Qatar. The former Chief of Staff, that Dr. Deering replaced, was Dr. Raymond T. Chung he and several others are responsible for the release of all Veterans Medical Records to the Doha, based organizations.

    The breach of Veterans Medical Records was accomplished Via the creation of a Data Base created by a team under the direction of Dr. Adeel Ajwad Butt called the Electronically Retrieved Cohort of HCV Infected Veterans “ERCHIVES”.
    Dr. Butts and his team who created ERCHIVES (Electronically Retrieved Cohort of HCV Infected Veterans), boast that it is the largest database of HCV infected persons and HCV uninfected Controls.

    A search of PubMed.Com using the search term “ERCHIVES” shows the clear path of the creation and use of the data base and the transfer of records to the organizations based in Qatar. The research connected shows the clear withholding of care for some Veterans resulting in the deaths of Veterans under the guise of research. Also the research connected shows the testing of Drugs knowing that they will end the life of Veterans used in the studies.


    PubMed search for Papers published connected to the ERCHIVES data base “https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=ERCHIVES”

    Katherine Mitchell Memo published December 16, 2015 by the Daily Caller News Foundation on Scribd.

    Hamad Healthcare Quality Institute webpage.

    Hamad Medical Corporation webpage.

    1. On PubMed check the author affiliation links to each of the published articles to see the path of our records through this database.

      1. Isn’t the new massive Halliburton HQ also located in Qatar as well? Only mentioning that because of DoD Contracts on steroids there. That HQ was built just after 9/11, but could be wrong there.

      2. Naminbor,

        According to a times article you are correct about Halliburton’s moving it’s headquarters to Doha, Qatar in 2007.

        The Time’s article is titled “Goodbye, Houston Hello Daubi”


      3. Also just want to point out that it is Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey that want to run the pipeline through Syria. That pipeline is opposed by the current administration in Syria who are working with a pipeline deal with Iran, and Iraq to build a pipeline for oil and natural gas to Europe.

  3. The Portland OR regional office director retired about the same time as Hickley. As a result the current acting director’s authority and leadership spans 2 regional offices.

  4. Ben, the VA situation has been going on for decades. It is the one place that there is non-partisan blame and the need for bipartisan support to resolve.

    Ill never forget the VA Secretary that Bush 2 appointed who was a former Marine, but beyond that ran horse shows and had a politic ambassadorship appointment to the Vatican. You should have been around then!

    1. Are you talking about Michael D. Brown who was the head of FEMA during Hurricane Katrina?

      1. to Melvin- Were you able to ascertain it was the one and the same Michael D Brown (FEMA)? Hey FEMA– Big Daddy is watching you.

      2. Native Texan,

        Haven’t gotten a response back from Merri Busch so I am not sure if she was talking about the same Michael D. Brown who was the head of FEMA during Hurricane Katrina.

        It wouldn’t surprise me to find out he also had a hand in the cookie jar at the VA.

    1. I think we have a better chance at Legionnaires or chronic diarrhea becoming widespread infectious within the VA rather than proper accountability.

      This smells strongly of political stage props for more $$$ at a very near date. What good will it do when the VA does as it always does and replaces those -3- with crappy VA employees that need to be relocated from other VA scandals?

      This is a major wait and see scenario. Still, smells of serious a$$-ki$$ing for future position for Sloan the Snake Gibson and I will be fully surprised if they even are charged with proper disciplinary for their actions. It will be something else non-related.

  5. Random thoughts. I wonder how many VA employees would say a good part of that press release is BS. Particularly Whistle blowers who are being worked with closely.
    164 new hires for Choice at Phoenix? Did I read that right? So VA will just demand a bigger budget for employees in future years when that Choice money runs out.
    I’ve had a nagging thought since yesterday when the head of the Patient Advocates/PR person called me. I finally put my finger on it. He told me the VA was submitting numerous Patient Safety (he pronounced it EEbers) reports over veterans not getting timely care through Choice.
    Ben, it would be interesting for you or a media contact to FOIA how many of these reports have been filed over delayed care from Choice, and how many reports were filed before Choice, or in comparison to veterans not getting timely care in the VA. If the VA is trying to show Choice is a problem in not getting timely care, are they reporting their own problems in providing care?
    I googled VA Patient Safety Reporting, and the directive calls the reporting system something different than EEbers. It does seem to emphasize the system is designed to be non-punitive.

  6. I wonder if more will be removed from other facilities. It was reported that manipulation of the wait-time info was systemic throughout the VA.

    1. I doubt others will be fired, unless something new comes to light.
      Again, I think the evidence will show these 3 have been fired for reasons other than the wait time scandal.

  7. I don’t think the VA had any choice in this matter given the amount of evidence they had. It seemed the PR person there has plenty of evidence, and is likely why these three are getting fired as opposed to veterans not getting care.
    Gibson seems to be excusing how long it took to get rid of these three given the massive amount of evidence they had to review. Gibson is too stupid to realize that admission just means their supervisors (directors and above) ignored problems for a long time allowing that evidence to amass. Supervisors who will still be employed. If they were serious about accountability, they would not allow evidence to pile up before finally taking action to correct problems.
    As for the election cycle, it’s happened in the past. Veterans problems are ignored until just before an election, then some politician who needs to polish their image will suddenly discover a problem, harrumph a couple times, pass a law and then go back to sleep after the election.
    I’m surprised nothing has been heard from the Democrat John McCain.
    Finally, what good is their accountability if these 3 are replaced by shuffling bad employees from another VA to Phoenix. Similar to Amdur if the allegations are true.

  8. YEA…HAPPY DANCE…Now let’s see if they go after the rest or is this just an appeasement move hoping the furor will die down and then business as usual…WE GOT TO STAY ON TOP OF THIS….

  9. I wish that at some point someone will ask the billion dollar question. Aren’t there any qualified VETERANS applying or being considered for these and similar positions and why aren’t they getting the jobs? Why is it that veterans only represent 10% of VA employees and even the. Are in the lowest positions and pay grades? This is a potential Class Action to end all Class Actions.

    1. to Tired Excellent point- hiring more veterans would solve an ocean load of problems in so many ways. Nothing has changed since the Atomic Café.

  10. Ben,

    My case against Curry was not settled. In fact, the Agency concluded that while the racists remarks were made (as well as other remarks about me engaging in sexual threesomes in my office) that these statements did not create a hostile working environment for me. I have appealed to EEOC in hopes they see it differently. I did win in MSPB and the damages portion of that case is ongoing.

    1. I do hope you win Tonja. No employee should have to work in those conditions, and to say they were not hostile is almost as disgusting and disgraceful as what they said.

  11. Keep an eye out on a civil complaint filed in the District Court of Delaware. It will be interesting because Senator Carper has close ties to the Chief Judge of the District Court. Carper directly recieved disclosures that he ignored and made excuses for the VA. A RICO statue was cited involving VA OIG, MSPB and the EEOC. Delaware is Biden’s home state where the Attorney General office ignored a veterans complaint that the OIG improperly access ed medical information and a psychologist flagged his record without a face to face assessment.

  12. @namnibor,
    I too would like to know WHY Hickey retired!?

    I also would like a “nationwide survey”, (by an independent agency), outlining all the government’s, (financial), “waste, fraud and abuse scandals” for the past 10 years, to be conducted.
    This way the taxpayers can/could have a say on “WHO” is to be held accountable!
    I believe it would also show there is NO “Transparency and Accountability” within our government! It would also cause an uproar on all the corruption in Washington!

    @Robin Mitchell,
    I believe your 110% correct on ‘ol Bagdad Bobbie. His “short lived reign as CEO of P&G” doesn’t really warrant anything of value! His “reign” at VA is also dismal, to say the least!
    I believe VA has gotten worse since he took over! Or, maybe its “crap” is just being better reported!
    And as far as Gibson, he’s just as worthless!

    There’s something else missing from today’s Blog. Where’s McCain? How come he’s not out “stumping for better healthcare, more accountability and transparency by VA for veterans”?
    Especially since, as Melvin commented on, “Whistleblowers going and talking to one of McCain’s staffers recently!?”
    Oh, wait, I will bet McCain and Kerry are having a backroom meeting trying to figure out, with their “peebrains”, how to make a law against veterans; ie: to stop anyone from gaining information, on a veteran, by using an Attorney, Congressperson or Senator. Or anyone else for that matter!
    You remember, like they stopped all info coming out concerning POW’s and MIA’s for 75 years!

    1. P.S.
      Here’s an interesting article from “Newsmax dot com” concerning an interview with Hillary. Titled;

      “Hillary: US ‘Didn’t Lose a Single Person’ in Libya”

      The interview was done on Saturday or Sunday. And she was saying this crap with a straight face.
      There’s a video of the interview.
      I guess she will come out later and say; “I misspoke!” or some such drivel! Like she did on the “VA Scandals!”

      How anyone can vote for this person is unimaginable! Or they have been drinking the Dumbocrats kool-aid for way too long!

  13. Sloan Gibson is obviously vying for the VA Sec. position…why else would we again, not hear ANYTHING from Bobby McDonald?
    I agree on the political motivation in trying to make things ‘appear better’ but this is earlobe deep scandal after scandal…it’s not going away magically once they tidy up the Phoenix VAMC….the problems are systemic, but the VA does not have the ability to even grasp this because they are the VA.
    Too bad taxpayers had to foot yet another 6 figure lawsuit payday for someone.

    1. I have heard from several people in the know that Baghdad Bob wants to leave. He is despondent over how we just don’t understand how great he is. Only when he took the job and I believe he was the number three choice part of the deal was to stay to the end. Obama will not release Bob because he doesn’t want to waste the political capital on trying to confirm another.
      Bob took the job for one reason only: to have his Wiki page say he fixed the VA. He tamed the beast. Not fired from P&G.
      Only he screwed up fro the start. He never demanded extraordinary powers to fire, cancel bloated contracts, etc. The guy is so sad that he refuses to over turn clearly wronged veterans claims under his signature as Secretary. Something he can do by statute. If Bob did nothing else all day other than right wronged claims by himself he’d have something of a success to think about in his old age.
      Sloan Gibson is clearly gunning for the spot. Only he isn’t much more on the ball. Rep Lee Zeldin sent him a letter asking him to expedite my husbands claim. An hour later Indy VBA Director Stephens had an email but called me playing childish word games. Gibson forgot to give him the memo to follow the law on this claim..now almost 5000 pages. He is 100% SC disabled with TBI, very low vision to legally blind, equilibrium seizures, etc. DRO Katrina Bone and Appeals Coach Sue Burke worked overtime to ignore law, court cases, Fast Letters, training letters, etc to deny the claim. Then Zeldin wrote both Gibson and the Oversight and Investigations committee asking for an investigation. Now all I hear is a day or two just another day or two. Gibson appears to have a lack of morals and is not continuity material. Gibson certainly doesn’t give two shits about a Special Ops vet that gave 21 years to his country and is now broken or how he can assure that the law is followed and my husband has a quality of life.
      We won’t even get into did Gibson notify the ODNI on the VA’s security breaches? DIA? How many Special Ops troops were told they had to testify how they got hurt on missions still highly CLASSIFIED against the law? Because it’s the VA..what national security laws? Bad situation with that little gem.

    2. When I said “too bad”, I am implying that it was egregious of him to make that ‘mudshark’ comment at a VA Whistleblower, and in addition to fact he had to know there is Whistleblower Protections these days…duh.

      I know I am beating a dead horse here but I still want t know the whole story behind reason Gen. Allison Hickey suddenly retired.

      1. Allison Hickey said she retired out of frustration at lower levels being able block her efforts to reform the corruption that is rife within the VBA.

        People need to understand how government works. The power is not really from the top down, it is from the middle out. When the corrupt MFers in the middle don’t want to do what is right, there is almost nothing the people at the top can do. A newcomer to the VA made the interesting comment to me in that regard that “death can sometimes be a good thing.”

        No matter what the people at the top do, nothing is going to change until the core of anti-veteran middle managers who “grew up” in the VA in the post-Vietnam era either leave, or are held personally liable in Bivens actions. Forget politics, and forget appeals. Veterans need to hire lawyers who can go right at the source of the problem by holding the middle managers PERSONALLY liable. Bivens leads the way.

      2. God told Hickey not to retire that she was doing good for veterans…that is in a printed interview. Shortly after that and right before a congressional hearing with her name on it God told her to cut and run….that day.

        In ten months with about 20 VA employees on the emails going back and forth up to and including Baghdad Bob and Robert Reynolds crew and a whole host of names in the news she couldn’t get Indy VBA Director and DRO Katrina Bone to just follow the damn law.

        That is an EEO Princess and a good riddance.

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