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Committee to hold second meeting on Phoenix VA medical center

A committee will meet this week to talk about how veterans can get better medical care at the V.A. hospital in Phoenix.

This will be the second meeting of the group made up of service organizations, community health providers and members of the Phoenix V.A.. It was called together by Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema last Thursday to try to find solutions to the hospital's problems.

There are apparently a lot of job openings at the Carl T. Hayden Veterans Hospital in Phoenix.

During a visit to the hospital last Thursday, acting V.A. head Sloan Gibson said the VA needs to fill 300 jobs there, and that it takes about three months to go through the red tape to get someone hired.

Sinema said that is unacceptable.

"We can't wait for the bureaucratic tape that it will take to hire all of those people," she said. "In the short term, the V.A. must contract with private providers in the community to insure that we're providing high quality care in a timely and accessible manner to veterans."

Sinema said she thinks that one obstacle is that pay for healthcare workers at the V.A. hospital is lower than it would be if they worked at another hospital.

"It's my hope that the V.A. will exercise some flexibility to offer competitive wages to hire some of the best and the brightest to come in and work at the facility," she said.

Sinema said that the committee that she has convened will focus on providing for the mental health care of patients. She did not say what day the second meeting will take place.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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