Phoenix VA Head Still On Payroll, Earns $14k Per Month

Phoenix VA Head

Benjamin KrausePhoenix, AZ – WND just reported that Phoenix VA head Sharon Helman is still on VA payroll earning more than $14,000 per month while on suspension. This money is pouring in to her bank account despite revelations starting in April that at least 40 deaths were linked to a fraudulent scheme that benefited many Phoenix VA employees under her watch, including her.

Those VA employees were benefited by making VA workloads appear artificially light through a scheme of falsifying wait times and wrongly denying veterans access to timely health care. Those denials resulted in deaths of at least 40 veterans while VA employees received bonuses for a job well done [sic].

Prior to the scandal, Helman earned $170,000 per year in her position as head of the Phoenix Veterans Health Care System. Since April, Helman has earned over $40,000 in salary plus benefits while VA is investigating her connection to the criminal scandal at the Phoenix VA.

This salary does not surprise me in light of the responsibilities a person her shoes is supposed to work with. However, I have strong reservations that anyone in VA is worth that kind of money while they kill veterans, either directly or indirectly.

Hopefully the legislation passed last week will help Robert McDonald fire slime balls working in VA who manipulated numbers and committed fraud for personal profit vis-a-vis yearly bonuses – aka incentive pay.

Until we see real action, I intend to keep writing about this audacious behavior and total failure in VA policymaking.

But out of curiosity, what would you spend $40k on if you made that kind of money while on a forced vacation?

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  1. This is a follow up to my post on Aug. 6th. They first did a 10 day observation on me back in Feb. 1983 for PTSD after I had filed a claim for service connection. I was interviewed by some young male nurse for 45 or 50 minutes the very first day. I guessed this was the initial interview or something. I stayed overnight expecting to be there for another 9 days to undergo some more of their testing and stuff. When they brought the food trays to us patients the next morning I was informed by the kitchen helper I didn’t get one and she sent me to the nurses station to find out why. I was then told by the nurse at the station that I was discharged and that I could go home. Well seven months later, I got my first denial letter from the VARO. I filed an Appeal based mostly about the inadequacy of the examination.. I had to Appeal all the way to the BVA on that. The BVA remanded the VARO decision based on the inadequate exam and I was given another examination. I got that in 1988. It took five years of Appeals and waiting just to get another examination! They sent me back to the same VAMC again for the exam! This time the staff were lying in wait for me because they knew that I had raised a ruckus about their 1983 exam, and a different doctor there way-laid me and low balled the hell out of me during the examination. I didn’t get service connected until 2001 and it took twenty years

  2. I’m a four tour combat vet of Viet-Nam. When I say combat vet, it means I had a combat MOS also. I went to VA for an inpatient Observation period of ten days on a PTSD claim. Back in 1988, the VA made you take a ten day inpatient observation period. Let me tell you what the VA Doctor did to me. He asked me what I was here for and I told him to be examined for PTSD. He THEN wrote down that I was being very vague about my problems. He asked me what my current job was. When I told him, he THEN wrote down this is what I told him I did in the military in Viet-Nam. He asked me what VA benefits I am eligible for as an honorably discharged veteran. I told him educational, medical care, home loan, etc. He THEN wrote down all I would take about with him was receiving benefits. He asked me if I drink. I told him a beer or two once in a while. He THEN wrote down that I admitted I was a frequent drug user. He sent all that to the VARO where they quickly dismissed my claim for PTSD. They also enclosed in their denial letter, a copy of the physicians report. That’s when I read all the outrageous lies that he wrote about me….. Does any of this sound familiar to anyone?

    1. As much as you were sucker punched by the VA, it would have a far worse nightmare if you tried for PTSD late 60’s early 70’s. They didn’t even have a name for it back then ! They would have given you some horse tranquilizers and sent you on your way. There is a “magic number” that is used by the VA, 30% of everything. If you fall outside the 30% quota that they maintain, they tear up your paperwork and 86 you…

  3. Portrait of a Snake:

    PVAHCS Welcomes New Health Care System Director Ms. Sharon Helman
    Veterans Health Administration sent this bulletin at 03/04/2012 10:16 AM EST

    by Paula L. Pedene APR

    PVAHCS Public Affairs Officer

    When a Veteran asked Ms. Helman what she was doing for herself, she replied, “I’m a mother of five, wife to a disabled Veteran and they keep me busy.” But the Veteran persisted, “No, I didn’t ask you what you were doing for them, I asked you what you were doing for you.”

    That question made her think and she took it to heart. What was she doing for herself? After all as a hospital director, mother and wife, what time was left? So it was after that game of hoops where a disabled Veteran in a wheelchair could beat her, she started doing something that would help her improve her personal health. She decided to take up running and she’s never looked back.

    “I started out with just one mile, and then I worked up to a few and then I thought, I wonder if I could do a marathon? She did and she’s been competing in marathons ever since. Her most recent 26.2 mile run was as entry #261 in the PF Chang Rock and Roll Marathon. She says that running gives her time to think, clear her head and it allows her to enjoy some of her favorite treats like Snickers and Diet Coke.

    Her five kids, Serena, Courtney, Austin, Larissah and Kiersten have dubbed her “Marathon Mom” and they celebrate with her each time she completes a race and brings home her medal. She says, she’s a slow runner and tends to end up in the back 40 of a race field, but that’s OK because for her it’s about completing the race and doing something for herself to keep her promise to a Veteran.

    She may be a slow and steady runner, but when you look at her VA career the slow and steady ends. She’s been on a fast track for more than 20 years. She entered the system in June 1990 as a GS-4 Program Specialist. She admired her director Gary Rossio at the VA San Diego Health Care System and decided then, that would be the job to shoot for. She pursued her college degree and then her masters while raising her children. Then she landed her first VA leadership role in Roseburg, Ore. as Associate Director in March 2005. From there, she worked her way up from lower complexity level hospitals to one of the most complex VA hospitals in the country, the Hines VA Hospital in Chicago.

    At Hines her responsibilities were about as huge as the campus, which spans 142 acres. She was in charge of the medical center, the blind rehab center, the spinal cord injury center, and other VA support services. In just two short years, she took the Hines facility from a deficit of $14 million to a balanced budget and along the way improved both patient and staff satisfaction scores through her empowering leadership style.

    “Veterans are why we are here. I live and breathe this mission. Each day, I renew my promise to take care of our Veterans and to give them the best care we can.”

    The cold weather and the high cost of living had her take a leap for the job as director at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. She is the first female director since PVAHCS opened its doors in 1951 and she is one of 44 female directors nationwide.

    Her first day on the job at Phoenix (Feb. 27) she held two meetings with supervisors to share her leadership vision for the future. “I base my decisions on three things, first is it good for the Veteran, second is it good for the staff and third is it good for the family-mine and our VA family. If we can answer yes, then I know that this is the best thing we can be doing.”

    Her second day on the job (Feb. 28) she held three meetings with more than 500 attendees. First she acknowledged the VA employees who were Veterans and thanked them for their service. Then she reminded everyone that it is “By the grace of God that our Veterans came back after their service to our country. Since they were willing to take a bullet for us, for our freedom, it is now our duty to give them the best care we can.”

    She also shared other beliefs…

    “This is about how we care for our Veterans like we care for our own family.”

    “I am your team; we are all in this together.”

    “What I expect of you, I expect of myself.”

    “I want you all taking risks, because when we do we succeed as a team and if we fail, we fail as a team, since we are all taking these risks together.”

    “There are solutions to every problem.”

    Helman is excited to be a part of the Phoenix VA team, where she knows much work lies ahead.

    “I know there is a parking problem, and I know we’ve had issues with our fee base care, and I know that we’re growing like crazy—we’ve added 20,000 new Veterans to our facility in just the last two years, but I’m excited to see what we can do to work on this together.

    There is much to look forward to. Within her first 90 days she’ll visit at least four community clinics; she’ll conduct a Veterans Service Organization and Congressional Staff briefing; she’ll handle two Congressional visits; she’ll celebrate her son’s 12th birthday; she plans on writing heartwarming weekly messages to share her life with staff; she’ll visit areas of the hospital and meet with patients, and the list goes on.

    Perhaps the best way to summarize her initial Town Hall meetings in setting the tone is to leave us with the thoughts she used in closing at each of her presentations to staff….

    “The Veterans are why we are here. I live and breathe this mission. The Veterans are always the focus.”

    Let’s all send her a snickers bar.

    1. This Post sounds like she should Run For President, Or “Sainthood”. I am Impressed by her stamina. and her ability to juggle Family & Work. As seen by her “Friends”
      This Post sounds like the “Program Goals” or “Efficiency Reports”They get to write for themselves, And they get a 60.000 Bonus. Atop that 175.000.00 Fat Govt Paycheck.
      The Question here is, Did she ever lie or Cook the books, or hide Information, Change information, Or Was she Partly involved in 40 Veteran`s deaths. For Personal Gain? Not, The question of whether she is a fast or slow runner, or her 12 Year old`s Birthday. Tho it does humanize the Woman, These numbers.still come into the question. Does it or should it be a Waver for her to just put it behind her and Go back to work as if there was No Harm done. After all these “may” have been “Old Veterans” that had serious Medical problems and were going to die “Maybe” soon anyway? So let`s just forget that and try to do better?
      The “Problem” is that these “People” that are Supposed to work FOR the Veterans, THEY Don`t SEE US as “People”, We are a Number, A “Burden” that they have to “Deal with” or “Handle”,
      In order for “ME” to get ALL I CAN FOR “ME” As fast as ” I ” Can. THEY can Wait,” I ” can`t.
      Please Thank her for me for being a Good Wife & Mother, Maybe she should stay at home, And get the V.A. off of her Plate, To allow her more “ME” time out of her “Busy Schedule”.

      1. yeah. I know. I found this piece written 2 years ago by the VA public relations Paula Pedene as a promotional when she first joined the Phoenix VA. I thought I would paste it here for all to view. Quite a different take of her, hah? But this goes to show that all of these directors think highly of the job they do and either don’t know what the hell is going on in their own ranks, or choose to look past any possible wrong doings of their staff as their staff collects all this bonus money matter-of-factly. They all have the irrational exhuberance (sp?) of moving things ahead until it becomes so rotten it all falls apart. The real question is how much and how deeply investigations into the practices at each facility will be uncovered and if this can be rectified by anyone at all. Good luck to Robert McDonald, who I believe doesn’t understand the magnitude of systemic problems here. As I posted some months ago, veterans have to have a big say and vote on everything that goes on for our healthcare policies, including complaining rights. I don’t believe that can be done without the government losing control or giving much of that control up.

  4. I think you should hang it out in front of the VA hospital and burn it to make an example of it and anything like it. This what I think from an 101st Airborne Ranger. If I gave meat blood and bone for this damn country and they started me out with $51.00 a month after 40 years and disrespected me and every other soldiers that wore a uniform and soldiers that did 3 and 4 tours in Vietnam and walking bare feet in the snow in Mad River, Humbo County, Trenty, Shasta, North Fork, South Fork, Indian Island, Black Face Mountain and Blue Canyon with no pay what so ever. If you get any pay the Sheriff Department beat the hell out of you and collect your pay. When you get back here when you are a combat vet, you are worth less then a cigarette butt and you cannot look in the trash can. Get the law and put you in jail. Its time for ALL VETS TO COME TOGETHER AS ONE AND UNITE!!

  5. This is where she lives.

    28656 N 68th Ave Peoria, AZ 85383-6656.

    Let’s help her make her mind up about resigning.

    No justice, no peace.

    1. It’s time for ALL VETERANS. VETERANS Wife’s Get together and take a stand AND stop getting BULLIED by these characters that hold such a high position and do nothing for the VNV and or the new VETERANS.

  6. being a diabled nam vet i had to fight them tooth and nail to get my benifit,s and still have to fight them to keep them, they have buried me under with paper work, rules, and reg,s many i do not under stand, you can get no one to answer the phone,s i have called two va now for over a week, got a fee base,s office employee on the line after 3 day,s you could,nt talk or reason with him or explain to him about any thing i said this after he said my computer say,s to me three time,s i said your damm computer is wrong, i got hung up on,still got no answer about a bill they turned down saying it was not s.c. but it was and is over my heart, i,am s,c for that this was over a bill, i was granted 4 follow up,s to a civilian doc that did my heart operation, now the fee base office claim,s they know nothing about it and turned this bill down for payment, i,am sick of there lie,s and stalling, i have two more follow up vist,s granted by them i ,am not going to them because of all this ring around the rosey

  7. The headline of this story maybe should say “Get`s” or “Takes” As opposed to “Earns”
    I remember watching this woman being Interviewed, She was Stuttering and Stammering. You don`t do that unless you are desperately trying to come up with a “Good lie”, or something you don`t want to reveal.
    Also, I wanted to say something about Dennis`s comment., Above.
    Yesterday I watched the “Thomas” Library of Congress. Hearing, “Veterans Admin. Healthcare” Hearing… Where they had VSO`s American Legion, DAV, VFW etc. They ALL said they were “Encouraged” by what Robert McDonald had to say, But, They “ALL” said “IF” he can do what he said he would. They all said their MAIN concern was “Transparency”
    “ALL” of the lawmakers on the panel, was asking, What was most important to the VSO`s
    (After their “We want what is THE VERY BEST for our Veterans”) Statements.
    Personally, I want this Coverup, Unreasonable LONG wait times for Svcs, In Healthcare, CLAIMS with the unending “Paper chase” (Trust me, The V.A. Knows more about US, As Veterans than we know about ourselves. They Already HAVE ALL THE INFO., But, We have to make it our life`s work to get them something they already have. We work YEARS on sending them our ‘Evidence” and with a few taps on the keyboard they can get it themselves.
    They want to DRAG it out as long, and make it as tough as they possibly can. So you`ll give up & Quit, or Die. ANYTHING is better than giving you what you deserve.
    “ONE” Bonus, of $60.000. Would/Could settle a Veterans Claim. and make him/her MUCH better off, maybe even Whole again. I know 60 Grand would HELP ME! Call me “Slow” But, I was FLOORED to find out, They GOT Bonuses. Atop a 6 figure salary. FOR WHAT? Lying to us and Stealing OUR MONEY?
    Congress gave The V.A. (Can`t the exact amount but ) about 160 Million, JUST for Hepatitis C, But, When they asked the V.A. about it, NO ONE KNEW WHERE THE MONEY WENT!
    I think “I” Know, and So do you.
    We ALL Served, Some Gave ALL, Some got hurt, but, Came home. Then we spend the REST of our LIVES trying to get back to as close to normal as THEY will allow.
    There`s a LOT more than Transparency, Needed, Tho that`s a Start, or a step in the right direction

    1. I am sorry but I am not going to buy into this BS of” IF’s and Hopefully’s” and all the Glib terms like “Transparency is on the horizon”, and I hope no one else does either.

      Secretary Shinseki was and an honorable man that depended on his well paid managers and other corrupt VA executives who kept reassuring him that his mandates were being put into action and everyone was doing what they were supposed to do. To hold him responsible for the short comings of a corrupt staff and system that intentionally mislead him is as naive as hoping that these high paid executives are going to be held accountable for mucking up the system and taking advantage of the Tax payers and the Veterans they are supposed to serve.

      Those employees who reported the executives are being retaliated against by the minions of these executives, to punish those that would dare buck the system. The dishonesty and lack of integrity and honor is so ingrained in the VA that decency and Transparency is little more than a “fool’s folly”.

      I hate to be so negative but the reality of the history of the VA is a harsh teacher. It’s this week’s headlines, soon to be forgotten and only brought back to the forefront when it’s repeated or yet another outrage is discovered. No criminal prosecution, no civil damages, no major changes in the every day managers equals “absolutely nothing is going to change in the long run”. I mean those who died were “only” old veterans.

    2. Curtis, you hit on something that lies at the bottom of all this seemingly contradictory barrage of information: “where the money went”. Well, the large majority may not have a clear understanding of just “where” the money has been going, but the FEW in the know could tell you: It’s been going “off the Books” and into another cash flow account for over 40 years. Just think on that concept and I’ll elaborate at another time. Does anyone think that this is just a collection of unrelated, uncoordinated events that have been in the works for over 4 decades? THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCE’S IN THIS WORLD .

  8. It doesn’t surprise me that this Sharon Helman is still employed at the Phoenix VA and still drawing a huge salary there. The VA is not going to fire her or any other incompetent at the VA because the VA cherishes those who exemplify the adversarial modus operandi towards veterans which permeates the entire atmosphere at the VA. I also have the sneaking suspicion that this Robert McDonald was hand picked to head up a program of covering things up at the VA instead of going in there and firing people and cleaning house!

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