Tags: VA Scandal | veterans | affairs | ordered | return | bonus | fired

VA Ordered to Return Bonus Taken From Fired Phoenix Manager

By    |   Friday, 13 Mar 2015 10:38 PM

The VA has to give back a $5,624 bonus garnished from wages of the disgraced former Phoenix manager at the center of a nationwide delayed-care scandal, Stars and Stripes reports.

According to court documents, an administrative law judge ruled the Department of Veterans Affairs must repay the bonus to Sharon Helman that was reclaimed while she was on administrative leave and faced termination, Stars and Stripes reports.

The VA removed Helman last April and tried to fire her after audits found secret patient wait lists in Phoenix and at facilities around the country; she was ultimately booted for taking lavish gifts that included Beyonce tickets and a trip to Disneyland.

The administrative law judge ruled the VA should've given Helman a hearing before garnishing her wages, however. According to court documents, bonuses were paid to many VA senior executives for good performance.

A VA spokeswoman tried to put an optimistic spin on the unfavorable ruling.

"There is an ongoing investigation by the Office of Accountability Review that is looking into leadership at the medical center,” spokeswoman Walinda West told Stars and Stripes. "Investigations and additional disciplinary actions at Phoenix remain pending."

The department said it has proposed disciplinary actions "related to data manipulation or patient care" against over 80 employees at hospitals and clinics across the country.

Helman’s dismissal has been the most high-profile to date.

The bonus ruling came as President Barack Obama traveled to the VA in Phoenix Friday to announce a new advisory panel to lead reform efforts.

"It's important that veterans know that somebody's got their backs, and that if there are problems that we're not being defensive about it, not hiding it," Obama said in his first trip to the hospital whose practices sparked the scandal.

A month ago, Obama drew criticism for traveling to Phoenix without stopping at the hospital.

But Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, blasted the visit as a "photo op."

"The American people — and veterans in particular — should be as unimpressed by the president's high-profile but empty gesture today as I am," said McCain.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The VA has to give back a $5,624 bonus garnished from wages of the disgraced former Phoenix manager at the center of a nationwide delayed-care scandal, Stars and Stripes reports.
veterans, affairs, ordered, return, bonus, fired, manager, phoenix
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2015-38-13
Friday, 13 Mar 2015 10:38 PM
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