Marine Corps veteran and VA employee Brandon Coleman received a long overdue apology from the Acting Deputy Secretary of Health for Operations and Management of the Phoenix Veterans Hospital this week. Coleman was one of the first whistle-blowers to come forth at the troubled facility calling attention to the fact that staff were allowing suicidal veterans to depart without proper intercession. In a letter from Under-Secretary Steve Young, Coleman’s commendable advocacy on behalf of his fellow veterans he was recognized for his efforts. For those of us that have followed Coleman’s efforts, this recognition is well-earned. Had it not been for Coleman and some of his associates the mistreatment of veterans at the Phoenix Veterans Hospital may have continued unabated for some time. His efforts have been tireless and much appreciated by his fellow veterans.
VA may have just issued its first roundabout apology to a Phoenix VA whistleblower last week, but the bureaucratic doublespeak makes it tough to tell.
The letter was written by Steve Young, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management. It was addressed to Brandon Coleman, an outspoken Phoenix VA addiction therapist and Marine veteran. Coleman reported that Phoenix VA was letting suicidal veterans walk out of the facility without help and against VA protocol.The
The VA letter applauded Coleman for doing the “harder right” rather than the “easier wrong.” That “easier wrong” seems to reference VA employees who allowed suicidal veterans to walk out of the facility rather than putting them under 72-hour psychiatric hold.
Those employees who did the “easier wrong” were not punished as far as we know, but Coleman was harassed by VA leadership and removed from his position pending VA’s investigation. Let’s hope they paid him well for the “easier wrong” Coleman prevented when he spoke out about what Phoenix VA was doing.