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(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
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Arizona senators want permanent director at Phoenix VA

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s two senators are calling for a new permanent director for the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

In a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake said the hiring needs to be the department’s highest priority. It took the Veterans Affairs department over a year to hire the last Phoenix VA permanent director, and the senators said that would be far too long to wait to hire the next one.

“It’s just not a good situation, particularly coming off the problems the VA has had, to not have a permanent director there,” said Flake.

The Phoenix VA Health Care System has been run by five different directors since a wait-time scandal in 2014 that thrust the facility into the national spotlight. The most recent permanent director, Deborah Amdur, retired for health reasons. Flake and McCain are calling on McDonald to hire either a veteran or a public health service officer as the new permanent director.

“The leadership starts at the top, and you got to have somebody who can come in and make the changes that need to be made and then see those changes through,” Flake said.

The senators said the new permanent director needs to have experience caring for the unique health care needs of the veteran community. Barbara Fallen is currently serving as acting director at the Phoenix VA until a permanent one is hired.

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