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Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center


Leadership Team

Portrait of John F. Merkle

John F. Merkle | (205) 554-2000 x2201

Medical Center Director

John F. Merkle, FACHE, was appointed the Director of the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center on September 20, 2015. Prior to his appointment he served as the Acting Director of the Medical Center since February 9, 2015.

Prior to these appointments, Mr. Merkle served as the Deputy Director of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center since September 2012. In this position he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the health care system. Prior to entering the Department of Veterans Affairs, Mr. Merkle was the Deputy Commander of Administration/Chief Operating Officer at the United States Army Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany.

Mr. Merkle is a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Army, who served on active duty for more than 24 years. He held a variety of healthcare leadership positions in his military career, including Deputy Commander of Administration of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe Health Care Facility, Deputy Director of the San Antonio BRAC Integration Office, Air Ambulance Pilot, and Medical Company Commander. While in the military, Mr. Merkle was inducted into the Order of Military Medical Merit, an honorary organization that recognizes leadership and significant contributions to the Army Medical Department. He also earned the Parachutist Badge, the Air Assault Badge, the Army Aviator Badge and received numerous medals, culminating with the Army Legion of Merit.

Mr. Merkle graduated in 1988 from John Carroll University in Ohio with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In 1997 he earned a Master of Business Administration from St. Martin's College in Washington. He also earned a Master of Health Administration from Baylor University in Texas in 2000. He is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and a Lean Six Sigma Certified Black Belt.

Portrait of Amir Farooqi

Amir Farooqi | (205) 554-2000 x2203

Associate Director

Amir Farooqi, FACHE, was appointed Associate Director of the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) on July 9, 2017, having served Veterans for 15 years at the medical center, network, and national levels.

Mr. Farooqi previously served as Interim Associate Director at Tuscaloosa starting November 7, 2016. Prior to Tuscaloosa, he was Acting Assistant Director at Atlanta VAMC (August-November 2016). Since October 2015, he served formally as Public Affairs Officer for VA Southeast Network (VISN 7), having joined VISN 7 in November 2013 as Operations Manager and simultaneously serving as Interim Strategic Planner and Interim Public Affairs Officer for extended periods until September 2015.

Before VISN 7, Mr. Farooqi was the Senior Analyst in VHA Strategic Planning under the Office of the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Policy and Planning, where he coordinated VHA’s National Leadership Council Strategic Planning Summit, supported the VHA Strategic Plan, and coordinated VHA’s Performance Plan in VA’s Congressional Budget submission. He started his VA career as an Administrative Fellow at G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VAMC in Mississippi, progressing to Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff and prior to the Chief Nurse Executive. While there, he received the Secretary’s Hero Award for service during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Mr. Farooqi is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), a Member of the VA ACHE Regent’s Advisory Council, and a Certified Mentor. He is a graduate of the Executive Career Field Career Development Program (2008-2009), Leadership VA (2012-2013), and the Excellence in Government Fellow Program (2015-2016). He is on the Board of Directors for the Leadership VA Alumni Association and for Pets Are Loving Support

Portrait of Carlos Berry

Carlos Berry | (205) 554-2000, ext. 2209

Chief of Staff

Carlos Berry, MD, DFAPA, was appointed as the Chief of Staff of the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center effective September 20, 2015. Prior to this appointment Dr. Berry served as the Acting Chief of Staff since November 17, 2014.

Prior to these appointments, Dr. Berry served many years as the Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health Service Line at Tuscaloosa VA, where he provided leadership for a full spectrum of mental health services from outpatient care to acute psychiatry.
Dr. Berry is a psychiatrist with more than 30 years of professional experience, including numerous positions at Tuscaloosa VA and the private sector. Dr. Berry’s practice at the Tuscaloosa VA includes treating Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric illnesses.

Dr. Berry did his undergraduate studies at the George Washington University; he finished Medical School in 1981 at the Universidad Central Del Este. He completed a rotating internship in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and then his psychiatry training at the National Institute of Mental Health, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, in Washington D.C.

Dr. Berry is a clinical affiliate professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the University of Alabama, School of Medicine. He is board certified in Psychiatry.

Dr. Berry is a Colonel in the US Army Reserve and has deployed six times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Dr. Berry is married to Angela Berry, RN BC; they have a son, Avery, who is a senior at the University of Alabama.

Portrait of David L Carden

David L Carden | 205-554-2000x2215

Associate Director, Nursing and Patient Care Services

David L. Carden, MPH, MHA, BSN-C, FACHE , was appointed as Associate Director for Nursing & Patient Care Services of the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center effective November 17, 2013. Mr. Carden came to the VA after a 30 year career in the U.S Army.

Mr. Carden is a native of Phenix City, Alabama, and graduated from the first School of Nursing class at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama in 1981. He retired from the Army with the rank of Colonel in 2012.

During his military career Mr. Carden served overseas for 17 years with assignments in Japan, Korea & Germany. His positions include the Director of Clinical Operations for the Europe Regional Medical Command in Heidelberg, Germany, Chief Nurse of the 30th Medical Command also in Heidelberg, Commander of the U.S. Army Health Clinic in Kitzingen, Germany, & Chief of Preventive Medicine Services at Fort Bragg, NC.

He has a varied background that includes clinical, consultative & administrative, educational & leadership roles. Mr. Carden establishes solid viable partnerships & also builds high performance teams by hiring, developing & motivating skilled professionals who are goal oriented, mission focused, results driven & value based. He has a strong background in health promotion & prevention; he attended the Master Resiliency Program at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 to become certified to teach self-awareness, self-regulation, mental agility & communication strategies to Soldiers & their families.

Mr. Carden has a Master’s in Public Health from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana & a Master’s degree from U.S. Army - Baylor Program in Healthcare Administration. He is certified by the American Nurses Credential Center in Community Health Nursing & is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College.

Mr. Carden is married with two daughters, one son, and two grandchildren.

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Jennifer D Simpson | 205-554-2000x2881

Health System Specialist

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Henry L Hudson | (205) 554-2000 x4083

Administrative Asst. to the Assoc. Dir

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Jay D Moyer | (205) 554-3782

Executive Assistant