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Controversial Official to Step Away from Manchester VA Task Force

Peter Biello
Dr. Carolyn Clancy (center) speaks at a congressional field hearing in September while Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith (right) and interim Manchester VA director Alfred Montoya (left) listen.

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.

VA whistleblowers cried foul when Mayo-Smith appeared at recent task force meetings, saying he was not allowing the group to be "independent of his views," which VA central office in D.C. had mandated.

Dr. Carolyn Clancy, VHA Executive in Charge, said the panel has remained independent.

"The task force will give us independent views. Those might be views that Dr. Mayo-Smith would've concluded and his team would have concluded on their own," says Clancy. "But most importantly, we want to make sure that all voices are heard here."

The task force has gathered a lot of information on how or whether to expand services for New Hampshire veterans. Now they deliberate, with a report expected by March.

Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered and Writers on a New England Stage at New Hampshire Public Radio. He has served as a producer/announcer/host of Weekend Edition Saturday at Vermont Public Radio and as a reporter/host of Morning Edition at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina.
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