Skip to content

Veterans Affairs Secretary Fires Head of Phoenix System Sharon Helman

Robert McDonald announced the latest firing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Robert McDonald announced the latest firing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Department of Veterans Affairs has fired Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix VA Healthcare System.  

The decision “followed an investigation by the VA Office of Inspector General in which allegations of lack of oversight and other misconduct were substantiated,” the department said in a press release on Monday. “This removal action underscores VA’s commitment to hold leaders accountable and ensure that Veterans have access to quality and timely care.”  

“Lack of oversight and misconduct by VA leaders runs counter to our mission of serving Veterans, and VA will not tolerate it,” said Secretary Robert A. McDonald, who is recently on the job himself after President Barack Obama ushered out Eric Shineski.  

“We depend on VA employees and leaders to put the needs of Veterans first and honor VA’s core values of ‘Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence.’” Some lawmakers had wanted Helman gone for awhile, citing the recently passed law intended to empower the secretary to fire people more easily.  

“Firing Helman is the right decision and long overdue,” Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., said in a statement. “The removal of Helman demonstrates that the VA has listened to our concerns and is serious about holding accountable those who put veterans at risk. Helman has been paid over $90,000 since being placed on administrative leave. This is a completely unacceptable use of taxpayer dollars that should instead go to providing care for veterans.”  

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America also applauded the move.  

“It’s good to finally see accountability in Phoenix,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff in a statement. But he called Helman’s departure “just one step on the long road to restoring trust across the system. We hope to see more people held accountable nationwide and look forward to learning the outcome of multiple ongoing criminal investigations.”  

Glenn Grippen has been designated interim Phoenix VA Healthcare System director, according to the department.  

Sinema met with Grippen Monday and asked for a plan to fix the system’s problems.  


Obama Signs VA Overhaul, Dings Senate on Failure to Confirm Nominees

Robert McDonald Nomination May Stem the Bleeding in VA Health Scandal

What Gets You Tossed by Obama, the Julia Pierson Edition

Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

Recent Stories

Biden signs foreign aid bill, says weapons to be sent to allies within hours

Airlines must report fees, issue prompt refunds, new rules say

Capitol Ink | B Movie

States move to label deepfake political ads

Decades of dallying led to current delay on menthol ban

Can a courtroom bring Trump’s larger-than-life personality down to size?