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VA worker's salary will not hurt programs

The director of Florida's six Veterans Affairs medical centers said Thursday that he has been assured that the controversial posting of Jerome Calhoun to the Bay Pines center will take "not one nickel" away from programs that help veterans locally.

Dr. Robert Roswell said the VA's central office in Washington, D.C., has agreed to pay Calhoun's $106,487 annual salary as long as he is at Bay Pines; a VA regional office in Durham, N.C., will pay all costs associated with his move here.

Calhoun until recently was director of the VA Medical Center in Fayetteville, N.C. He was reassigned to Bay Pines when VA investigators concluded that he harassed one woman by making "inappropriate comments of a sexual nature" and behaved toward two others in an "abusive, threatening and inappropriate" manner.

Calhoun's arrival at Bay Pines angered many VA employees, however, and Roswell Thursday called those reactions "justified and appropriate." He said his demand that Washington shoulder the burden of Calhoun's salary "was based on feedback from my staff."

No program that benefits veterans locally will suffer, he said.

Calhoun first came to Bay Pines as a special assistant to director Thomas Weaver. He has since been classified a health systems specialist, said Roswell, and is working on projects.

Calhoun has declined requests for comment.

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