Interim VA director overseeing care for 80,000 Arizona vets - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Interim VA director overseeing care for 80,000 Arizona vets

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - In the middle of all the turmoil involving allegations veterans died waiting for care, an interim director arrived in Phoenix to oversee the care of 80,000 veterans.

He has his work cut out for him.

Clearly, there is a crisis of confidence in the Phoenix VA, but he told me the mission is to turn things around.

Even though his title is interim director, he's not treating this like a temporary assignment.

"I am treating this as my serious responsibility," said Steve Young.

Young started as interim medical director on Monday.  He had no reservations about taking the assignment.

"I did what I think every other medical center in the VA across the nation would do and that is when called and asked if there is anything that I might be able to do to help the medical center, I very gladly accepted."

Young is taking over a system embroiled in controversy after allegations that as many as 40 people may have died waiting for care and that the VA staff kept a secret waiting list to hide long wait times.

"Those that I am responsible for.. if people did wrong.. we are going to hold them accountable. Integrity is one of our core values. We have got to embrace integrity because without it, people cannot have confidence in us," he said.

Young replaces Sharon Helman, who was placed on leave at the request of the inspector general.  He came to Phoenix from Salt Lake City, but he's led VA hospitals across the country.

At 16, he was hired to wash dishes at a VA center in his home state of Iowa.

"I have worked with VA for 37 years.  It is who I am, it is what I believe in," he said.

And he has this message for Phoenix veterans: "I want you to trust us.  I want you to believe that this medical center wants to care for you. We want to do the best that we can for you and we want to best serve Phoenix veterans."

Young says he is looking forward to seeing what the inspector general finds.  That investigation isn't expected to be completed until August.

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