New El Paso VA director lays out improvement plan

Michael Amaral speaks to veterans on his first day in the new permanent position

After several changes in command, the new permanent director of the El Paso VA started his new job on Monday. The new full-time director is Army veteran and retired Col. Michael Amaral. Amaral said me he is hoping to make small changes that will improve the VA on a large scale. But mostly, he said improving morale will make the biggest difference.

Amaral is originally from Massachusetts. He went to a small military college in Vermont, then he spent 30 years in the Army doing health care administration. Then, he ended up at William Beaumont serving as the chief of staff. He said being a veteran himself will help him better understand the needs of who he is serving.

"I think I can bring some leadership, some direction, to the VA. With the revolving door that they've had since the last previous full-time director left, it's a challenge to any organization,” Amaral said. "There are some people who really need some uplifting, and I really think I can do that."

Amaral said he also wants to turn his attention to lowering wait times for veterans to get appointments.

The position Amaral just filled has been vacant since 2014 when former director John Mendoza was appointed deputy network director for the VA Northwest Healthcare Network. There have been interim directors since then, and Amaral is the first permanent director.

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