Kuster Statement on the Retirement of VA New England Health Network Director Dr. Mayo-Smith, and Restructuring of the VISN 1
(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), the lead Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee, released the following statement on the announced retirement of the VA New England Healthcare Network (VISN 1) Director Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith. Last year, in conversations with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Kuster expressed her concerns with leadership within VISN 1, and last month requested Secretary Shulkin remove Dr. Mayo-Smith from his post. In October of last year, Kuster wrote to Secretary Shulkin requesting that he remove Dr. Mayo-Smith from the VA New Hampshire VISION 2025 Task Force. Today, Secretary Shulkin also announced that VISN 1 would be restructured in an effort to improve oversight under the leadership of Dr. Bryan Gamble, retired Army Brigadier General. Kuster also responded to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Inspector General report outlining widespread challenges in oversight at the VA.
“I’m encouraged by the announcement today that the VA New England Healthcare Network will be undergoing changes to address the deficiencies and lack of oversight that allowed care to deteriorate at the Manchester VAMC and problems to persist throughout New England,” said Kuster. “Dr. Mayo-Smith’s decision to retire is the right choice. It’s now critical that new leadership and structures be put in place that will increase transparency, oversight, and prevent the issues that led to substandard care for our veterans. Our veterans deserve a robust healthcare system that provides high-quality and convenient care at both VA Medical Centers and within veterans’ home communities. The Inspector General report released today also makes clear that the issues we’ve seen in New England are not unique, and that reforms are needed throughout VA to address widespread failures in VA oversight. I look forward to meeting with Brigadier General Gamble to discuss the future of the VA New England Healthcare Network and to ensure that the voices of local veterans and stakeholders are taken into account as recommendations are developed to address the unique needs of veterans in New Hampshire and New England.”