Peter Biello / NHPR

The director of the New England VA Healthcare system announced his retirement Wednesday.

Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith's departure comes a day after New Hampshire's two congresswomen, Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, called for his removal.

Allegations of mismangement at New England VA facilities have dogged Mayo-Smith over much of the past year. Last summer, a dozen whistleblowers at the Manchester VA came forward with allegations of substandard care that caused some patients lasting harm. They were vocal opponents of Mayo-Smith and called for his removal then.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Congresswoman Annie Kuster is calling for the removal of a high-ranking VA official who she says needs to be held accountable for problems at New England's VA medical centers.

In a letter sent last month to VA Secretary David Shulkin, Kuster requests that Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith be removed from his position as director of the New England VA Healthcare System.

VA whistleblowers have been calling for his removal for months, saying that he knew about deficiencies at the Manchester VA but didn't do enough to help. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

We’ve heard a lot of stories this election cycle about political newcomers who have been inspired to run for office. But there are often many obstacles between making that big personal decision and actually running a campaign.

A Boston-based group called New Politics is trying to help veterans and other public servants break into politics. This election cycle, they’re working with Maura Sullivan, a New Hampshire congressional candidate and a Marine veteran.

Peter Biello / NHPR

  Sean Carrier is an Army veteran. He's 44 years old, and while serving in Iraq he survived seven IED blasts.

"And then I was in a hard landing in a C-130."

Peter Biello/NHPR

The task force looking at the future of health care for New Hampshire's veterans has drafted some suggestions for improvements at the Manchester VA, and those suggestions do not include the construction of a new full-service VA hospital.

This task force was put together last year after whistleblowers came forward with allegations of mismanagement at the VA. Dr. Erik Funk was the sole whistleblower to be named to the task force. He joins NHPR's Peter Biello to talk about these preliminary findings.

Peter Biello/NHPR

A task force looking at the future of VA healthcare for New Hampshire veterans has issued a draft report that says the Manchester VA Medical Center does not need to be a full-service hospital.


A full-service hospital has been a priority for many advocates, including nearly a dozen whistleblowers who came forward last summer with allegations of mismanagement that resulted in patient harm. 


The New Hampshire congressional delegation has long endorsed the idea of a full-service VA hospital in the Granite State.


Peter Biello / NHPR

By taking the job of permanent director of the Manchester VA, Al Montoya also received a nearly nine percent pay raise.

In his new role, Montoya will earn an annual salary of $174,500. That's more than $14,000 more than he made as director of White River Junction, Vermont VA Medical Center, which is a larger and more complex facility. There he made $160,147.99 per year.

Spokesperson for the regional VA network Maureen Heard says a director's pay is based on several factors, including medical center complexity, the director's experience, and local circumstances.

Al Montoya Named Director of Manchester VA Medical Center

Feb 25, 2018
NHPR File Photo

  The man appointed to temporarily lead the Manchester VA Medical Center after several top officials were removed last summer has been named the veteran facility's director.

Alfred Montoya had been serving as interim director of the Medical Center since July, when The Boston Globe reported on allegations of substandard care and treatment at the hospital.


Following his State of the State speech this morning, Governor Chris Sununu signed an executive order that aims to streamline services for New Hampshire's military veterans and their families.

The executive order would create a single point of contact for veterans seeking state services. It also gives the state's Adjutant General more authority to coordinate the efforts of the state's existing resources.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Congresswoman Annie Kuster says VA Secretary David Shulkin must immediately address allegations related to official travel.

In an audit by the VA Office of Inspector General, Shulkin is found to have improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets and gone on an 11-day European trip with his wife that mixed business and sightseeing at taxpayer expense.

Peter Biello/NHPR

The task force looking at the future of the Manchester VA met again Wednesday and will meet all day Thursday. Members are trying to come up with a tentative set of recommendations on how to best provide VA health care to New Hampshire's veterans.

The task force itself was created as a response to whistleblower allegations of substandard care that harmed some VA patients. Earlier today, in between sessions, NHPR's Peter Biello spoke with the task force co-chair, Dr. Jennifer MacDonald.

The New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton is suspending outside visitors due to an outbreak of a norovirus.

The suspension was announced Friday after multiple residents became sick with a highly contagious intestinal virus. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and headaches.

Veterans Home officials say they consulted with the state Division of Public Health about the temporary halt, which is in place to protect residents from acquiring new infections, as well as spreading the virus outside of the facility. 

A Troubled Investigation Into The Manchester VA

Jan 30, 2018
Peter Biello

The Department of Veterans Affairs launched an investigation into allegations of substandard care at the Manchester VA last year, after whistleblowers from the hospital went to the Boston Globe's Spotlight team.

Now, a new report says that the investigation ignored many of the complaints leveled by the whistleblowers, and at least one physician who was accused of poor care has found a job working with veterans elsewhere. We talk with Peter Biello, reporter and host of All Things Considered for NHPR, about the latest. 

This segment will air live from 9:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 31st, and again at 7:40 p.m. The audio will be available shortly after 10 a.m.

Peter Biello/NHPR


A new report says the Department of Veterans Affairs has been reluctant to acknowledge fault with how some patients were treated by the VA facility in Manchester. 


The report comes from the US Office of Special Counsel (or OSC), the agency in charge of reviewing the VA's response to recent whistleblower allegations.


Peter Biello / NHPR

It’s been nearly six months since problems at the Manchester VA made national headlines.

Whistleblowers came forward with accusations of dangerous delays in care and unsanitary conditions. A task force formed in the wake of those accusations has been meeting to figure out the best way to deliver care for New Hampshire veterans.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello who attended a meeting of the task force yesterday.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The New Hampshire House has passed a bill that would create a state Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.

The goal of the bill is to bring all the state's resources for veterans and military personnel under one roof. Right now veterans' resources for education, housing and homelessness, benefits, and medical care are handled by separate entities.

Update: The Urgent care clinic was reopened Thursday afternoon, following the closure Wednesday, the VA reports.


The Manchester VA's urgent care clinic was closed Wednesday after the discovery of bed bugs.

Patients were sent away after the bugs were found in the waiting room and in one exam room.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Department of Veterans Affairs is asking military veterans from New Hampshire to provide feedback on the future of VA health care in the state.

The survey asks veterans about how they would prefer to receive VA services. It also asks about the impact of combining existing VA clinics in Somersworth and Portsmouth into a larger clinic in Dover.

Britta Greene / NHPR

NHPR News covered hundreds of stories in 2017. They ranged from the sublime (see Todd Bookman's story about an amateur synchronized swimming team in Hancock), to the tragic - such as Jack Rodolico's Heroin Diaries, in which a wife of an overdose victim discovers his videos chronicling his struggle.

Peter Biello / NHPR

A group studying the future of healthcare for New Hampshire's veterans meets Monday, and one key figure will not attend.

Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith, director of the New England VA system, is voluntarily stepping away from the task force.

This comes months after he was removed as its co-chair. He's been an informal advisor since then.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Manchester VA has partnered with Rochester's Frisbie Memorial Hospital to provide gastrointestinal procedures to veterans on New Hampshire's seacoast.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter made the announcement Thursday, calling it an important step toward making sure veterans can get the care they need locally.

Appointments will still be handled through the Manchester VA.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The task force looking at the future of VA health care for New Hampshire veterans wrapped up two days of meetings Thursday. For the most part, these meetings are calm deliberations. Task force members listen to presentations, ask questions, and discuss VA issues.

But a heated exchange at yesterday's meeting highlights the simmering tensions between VA whistleblowers, who went public with their concerns, and VA leadership.

Peter Biello / NHPR


A top regional official at the Department of Veterans Affairs remains involved with a task force looking at the future of the Manchester VA - despite having been removed from his role as co-chair and member of that task force.

Regional VA director Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith was removed because of concerns raised by the state's congressional delegation and VA whistleblowers, who say he bears some responsibility for what they're calling harmful delays in care to veterans.

Some members of the New Hampshire Democratic Party are forming a caucus for military veterans and their families. 

About fifty people have expressed interest in joining, says Amelia Keane. She's a Democratic representative from Nashua and a combat medic in the Army Reserves.

Keane is also a member of the caucus, and she says its goal is to advocate for legislation that would improve the lives of veterans and their family members. She says right now the caucus is just getting started.

In the past few months, the Manchester VA Medical Center met with scandal, disaster, and a full helping of public outcry. Today on Word of Mouth, NHPR's Peter Biello looks back on the summer's news and tells the story of one woman's effort to improve hospital facilities for survivors of military sexual trauma. 

Courtesy of the N.H. State Veterans Cemetry

Top New Hampshire officials will be at the state’s Veterans Cemetery Saturday in honor of Veterans Day.

Peter Biello / NHPR

All this week, we're honoring military veterans by sharing their stories of service. Today, we hear from Army Veteran Michael F. Richmond of Claremont, New Hampshire. When he was in the Army in the 1980s, he witnessed history in the making in Berlin. But the Army wasn't his plan "A" or even plan "B."  

Peter Biello / NHPR

All this week, we're honoring military veterans by sharing their stories of service. Today, former Marine  Tim McLaughlin talks about a transformative day for him and for the U.S.: September 11, 2001. 

Peter Biello / NHPR

All this week, we're honoring military veterans by sharing their stories of service. Today, Donna Nobrega tells us about her experiences as a sailor in the 80s and early 90s, when the country was at peace. 

Peter Biello / NHPR

This week, in honor of Veterans Day, we're hearing from New Hampshire veterans about their time in the service. To kick off this series, a story of caring and deep rewards, from veteran Ginny Timmons of Boscawen.

Timmons was assigned to an evacuation hospital in Vietnam and cared for young men in intensive care. It was difficult, but she was committed to the role. "I loved the service," she says.


(Editor's note: We recommend listening to Timmons recall her time as an Army nurse.)