U.S. SENATE—U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) urged Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to prioritize patient care at the Phoenix VA while working diligently to find a suitable, qualified hospital director.

Following the departure of the Phoenix VA hospital’s director on Oct. 27, McSally wrote to Secretary Wilkie to stress the importance of maintaining high-quality care for Arizona’s veterans during the search for a replacement. 

“As you know Arizona is home to over 500,000 veterans, and only one-third seek care at one of the VA’s facilities. Following the national wait time scandal of 2014 that started at the Phoenix VA, Congress passed multiple pieces of legislation, including the landmark MISSION Act of 2018. This has allowed veterans greater access and choice in their care,” McSally wrote. “As you consider a suitable candidate for replacement, you should ensure that all of these successful programs remain a priority. Lastly, I would also hope that this replacement has a track record of transparency and community engagement as frequent communication with Arizona’s congressional delegation is necessary to achieve results.”

Her letter is available for download HERE or below.

Dear Secretary Wilkie,

I write to you regarding the departure of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital Director RimaAnn Nelson, and the search for her replacement.

As you know Arizona is home to over 500,000 veterans, and only one-third seek care at one of the VA’s facilities. Following the national wait time scandal of 2014 that started at the Phoenix VA, Congress passed multiple pieces of legislation, including the landmark MISSION Act of 2018. This has allowed veterans greater access and choice in their care.

The Phoenix VA also was the first in the nation to pilot and adopt the minute clinic program that allowed veterans to seek treatment of minor illnesses and injuries, rather than flood the VA’s emergency rooms---which has drastically reduce wait times and access for veterans.

Additionally, the Phoenix VA is home to the “Be Connected” suicide prevention program for veterans across the state. This nationally recognized program has been credited as a model for community engagement and making resources available to veterans in need.

As you consider a suitable candidate for replacement, you should ensure that all of these successful programs remain a priority.

Lastly, I would also hope that this replacement has a track record of transparency and community engagement as frequent communication with Arizona’s congressional delegation is necessary to achieve results.

I look forward to continuing to work with you on the ways we can support our country’s veterans and ensure the highest quality care possible. Please make this a high priority and urgently fill this vacancy.   

On November 8, McSally introduced legislation to rename the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) community outpatient clinic in Gilbert after U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Alexander W. Conrad of Chandler, Arizona. 

On November 5, McSally introduced bipartisan legislation to expand access to veteran treatment courts and allow those who served our nation to receive the care they need. 

On March 12, McSally and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) highlighted Arizona’s “Be Connected” program and pressed the VA on instituting meaningful action on veteran suicide.

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