By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, October 6, U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R from Montgomery) and U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R from Alabama) both announced in statements that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs was beginning termination proceedings against disgraced former Central Alabama Veterans Health Systems director, James Talton.
Representative Martha Roby said on Facebook, “The Dept. of Veterans Affairs has begun termination proceedings for James Talton, who until recently was the director of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System. As you know, repeated instances of misconduct, negligence and cover-up within the Central Alabama VA led to our system becoming one of the nation’s worst. The decision to begin termination proceedings for the director who presided over this troubled system is a major step toward instilling accountability at the VA and building trust with Alabama veterans.”
Senator Shelby said in a written statement, “Today’s announcement that the CAVHCS Director James Talton will be removed from his position for ‘neglect of duty’ is welcome news. Under Talton’s supervision, the CAVHCS has been at the forefront of disturbing practices and negligence in the VA Medical System. I am pleased that the VA recognizes that this type of inexcusable mismanagement must not be tolerated. New leadership is a much-needed first step in ensuring that the CAVHCS will better serve our veterans who have dutifully served our nation.”
Rep. Roby said, “It should be noted that this is among the first uses of new accountability measures enacted in a recent VA reform bill. That’s significant. Congress acted to give the VA Secretary special authority to swiftly fire senior managers for misconduct or poor performance, and we have been eager to see him use it. Many have understandably worried that, despite the new law and public outrage, nothing would really change at the VA. Today’s action is a positive sign that the new VA leadership is committed to removing bad actors and improving the healthcare system.”
On Monday, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald announced that he had exercised his newly-codified authority to begin termination proceedings of former CAVHCS Director James Talton. Talton and CAVHCS Chief of Staff Dr. Cliff Robinson had previously been placed on administrative leave with pay.
Rep. Roby said, “Numerous instances of misconduct, negligence and cover-up within the Central Alabama VA led to our system becoming one of the nation’s worst. Secretary McDonald’s decision to begin termination proceedings for the director who presided over this troubled system is a major step toward instilling accountability at the VA and building trust with Alabama veterans.”
Rep. Roby said that none of this would have been possible without the whistle-blowers who provided the inside information to journalists and investigators.
Rep. Roby said, “This action would not have been possible without those who, risking their jobs, reached out to let me know what was really happening inside the Central Alabama VA. We have kept their identities confidential and will continue to, but it is the whistle-blowers who really deserve the credit for making sure misconduct and mismanagement did not get swept under the rug. I want to thank our brave whistle-blowers and the journalists who told their stories.”
Congresswoman Martha Roby is running for a third term representing Alabama’s Second Congressional District. Senator Shelby is presently serving his fifth term in the United States Senate.