Some veterans question hiring process to name new director of VA North Texas Health Care System

Some North Texas veterans are concerned that the VA did not follow proper procedure when selecting the next director of the second-largest VA medical system in the country. 

They said they feel the VA unfairly passed over the acting Dallas director by hiring someone from a smaller system without ever even posting the job opening. 

The veterans said the VA missed an opportunity to have the first black director of the North Texas VA, and they argue his qualifications are better than the candidate selected for the post Sunday. 

"Brown, he deserves a chance to be interviewed and he wasn't given that chance," said Ken Watterson, president of the Veterans Resource Center.

A group of Dallas veterans who are leaders of multiple organizations want to know why acting Dallas VA Director Kendrick Brown was passed over for a permanent assignment.

"He has done a great job. He keeps all the veterans informed on what's going on. I've got his cell phone number right now, I can call him. If we have an issue, his door is open. We haven't had that in the past," Watterson added.

Before taking on the acting director job, Brown previously served in the No. 2 role since 2016, a time when some veterans said the North Texas VA began a turnaround. 

"Twelve years ago, we didn't have that. We were at the bottom of the barrel, this VA was, and I’m proud of what we achieved the past few years," Watterson said.

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The veterans backing Brown said the job opening was never posted, what they call a violation of the process laid out by the federal government. 

They wanted to meet with U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough when he visited Waco last week, but retired Major General James Williams said his request was declined.

"I thought he was going to come here for veterans roundtable, but that did not happen. I don't know what happened to his schedule, it just didn't happen," he said. "The answer to me was that maybe he will have a meeting with you later in the month or next month, and I said that is a little late."

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The new director, Jason Cave, was announced in a release on Super Bowl Sunday.

The North Texas VA serves 206,000 veterans.

Up until June, Cave served as the CEO of the West Texas VA Health Care System in Big Spring, which serves a much smaller community of 17,000 veterans.

"We are not saying he is not capable, that he couldn't run it. The question is the process," Williams said.

"The process is built to protect everybody involved. When you bypass the structure of the process, you create doubt, and there's no need to do that, because there's a way to get it accomplished the right way. So do it right the first time, you don't have to do it over again a second time," retired U.S. Army Captain Clayton Hoesterman added.

FOX 4 reached out to the office of Secretary McDonough, as well as the spokesperson for the Heart of Texas VA, which announced the new director appointment.

We were told they are working on a statement.