Veterans

As a 25-year Navy Veteran with three deployments – Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, I know what it means to serve our nation in harm’s way. The selfless dedication of our men and women in uniform inspires me each and every day.

We owe it to our Veterans to keep our promises and ensure they have what they need when they come home. That means access to a world-class healthcare system to heal the wounds they bore for our nation; and never forsaking those for whom the battle continues to rage after they’ve come home.

My commitment to Veterans didn’t end when I retired from active duty in 2016. I hung up the uniform on a Friday and was working as a doctor at the Phoenix VA the next Monday. Rather than take a less challenging or more financially rewarding position elsewhere in Phoenix, I knew the VA was where I was needed most and where I could quickly make a big impact on the lives of Veterans. As the first interventional radiologist on staff there in decades, I established programs to care for Veterans with cancer and liver disease and built the system’s first clinic and consultation service of its kind. That’s what personal commitment to Veterans is all about.

Working at the Phoenix VA allowed me to witness firsthand the valiant effort so many hard-working and dedicated staff make each day to improve the health and well-being of our community’s Vets. It also showed me the areas where we must improve. We need to fix a badly broken HR system that allows the few bad apples to ruin the barrel. It doesn’t empower capable leaders with the authority or agility to hire the right people to accomplish their mission. The system rewards employees who perform or behave poorly by allowing endless appeals and administrative actions, all the while blocking the ability to replace that person with someone who is capable and eager to work.

The VA system is plagued by contracting and supply challenges that are managed from a distance by bureaucrats, people disconnected from patient care who are out of touch with the folks in the trenches working hard on behalf of Veterans. This results in shortages, mismatches, and cost overruns – this is bad for Veterans and for taxpayers.

Some of these fixes can be accomplished locally, but many require acts of Congress.

I know how the system works, I know how to fix it.

As a Veteran, a doctor, and a former VA employee I will bring firsthand experience to Congress that no other member of Congress can. I’ll make the changes Veterans in Phoenix need to receive the care they earned.

Steve ferrara is a retired member of the navy. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement from the department of defense or the navy.