Did VA Just Apologize To Its First Phoenix VA Whistleblower?

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Phoenix VA Whistleblower

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.

RELATED: VA Is Lying Billboard Goes Up In Phoenix

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.

RELATED: VA Blowing Off Suicide Protocol

VA “APOLOGY’ LETTER TO PHOENIX VA WHISTLEBLOWER

Dear Mr. Coleman:

As Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operation and Management for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), it is very important to me to acknowledge your dedication and commitment to the mission and values of VA and Veterans Health Administration. In your position as an Addiction Therapist at the Phoenix VA, you brought to the VA’s attention significant concerns regarding the treatment of suicidal veterans. VA values and depends on employees who, like you, are willing to extend themselves to make the VA stronger. We are grateful that you brought awareness to these important issues.

No organization can succeed without values to match its mission. VA’s mission is to care for those “who shall have borne the battle” and for their families and survivors . VA’s core values – Integrity, Commitment , Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence – define our culture and strengthen our dedication to those we serve, and they are exemplified in your service to the VA. You chose the harder right instead of the easier wrong and performed your duties to the very best of your abilities.

You have shown your dedication and commitment to the mission of VA. I want to thank you for taking the time to support VA, its mission, and core values.

Sincerely,

Steve Young

So what do you think about the letter? Is this an apology? Or, is this just a way for VA to try to save face without admitting that it harassed its VA employee after he became a whistleblower?

Source: https://www.disabledveterans.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/160802-Brandon-Coleman-Apology_Redacted.pdf

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49 Comments

  1. Face saving Bullshit if you ask me. Brandon and every other whistleblower that has felt the sting if VAs retaliation deserve a hell of a lot more than a BS letter. My thanx to Brandon and all the others that have tried to help Vets at the risk of their own livelihood.

  2. I am a Vietnam vet, who has been around a long time. Never in all those years, have I seen VA honestly admit to any wrongdoing. Not once, not ever. Isn’t that remarkable?

    • Way they see it as a (dis) organization is that the agency did no wrong, they separate themselves from the bad actors. They also feel they have some form of Sovereign immunity which gives them the right to dismiss the activities of the bad actors within their organization. You cannot sue VA directly, you may sue the person responsible, and you cannot raise a class action suit against them. Notice the letter was signed by an undersecretary and not Baghdad Bob. The letter could simply be dismissed as that single person’s opinion and be said not to reflect the views of the organization as a whole, whereas, a letter BaghDisney Bob would speak for VA as a whole. VA has admitted nothing of substance, and the letter is basically worthless.

  3. HUGE kudos to Brandon Coleman and ALL Whistleblowers that have sailed against the storm of the V.A. Titanic. We need many more just like you to do as the VA called it, “The Harder Right”.

    “The Harder Right”– The VA has no other name for that thing called the TRUTH and ACCOUNTABILITY. That was one veiled apology if I have ever read one and I agree, WHY did not VA Sec. Bob McDonald or BVA Thomas “Agent Orange” Murphy not BOTH sign said letter instead of an undersecretary lap-dog?

    This was nothing more than a CYA moment, aka the VA Covering Their Asses….or A$$et$, more appropriately.

    I bet such VA ilk as the “Candyman of Tomah” would get an even more elaborate apology and am betting Houlihan has already received a few of those. What’s up with Candyman? How about the Whistleblower Protections that the VA has violated on Brandon and Ron and all the others brave enough to step forward?

    How about punishment, as in termination and never allowed to work a Fed. Job again for ALL that were hostile to VA Whistleblowers for just a start?

    Rat Bastards!

    • Still plugging away on my EEOC case against VHA central office. They treat post 9/11 vets like shit there. Def need a rally. As other have said.

  4. I agree with Ron. The VA has never admitted any wrongdoing, ever.
    Could this be the beginning? I doubt it! Here’s my “REASONS”!

    In my opinion, when McDuck comes out PUBLICLY, and apologizes to veterans which have been wronged. This “letter” to Brandon means little! By the way, Where the hell is McDuck? Is he still standing in that Disney line, waiting to get into “Fantasyland”?

    Also, until all those VA employees who have wronged veterans have been punished, why should we believe anything from VA?!

    Until those who have used taxpayers monies inappropriately are punished. Why should anyone believe VA?!

    The VA pays $25 million/year for “public relations”.
    The VA has payed out tens of thousands of dollars each year for “artwork”. (I put that article on here a few days ago!)
    The VA has squandered tens of MILLIONS of taxpayers monies attempting to build hospitals. (Aurora, Col., Lake Nona, Fl., Las Vegas, Nv., to name a few.)
    The VA has squandered tens of millions of taxpayers monies on “IT” and other electronic gizmos over the years.
    The VA has paid out bonuses in 2014 and 2015. When they were “mandated by Congress” NOT to do so!
    The VA has allowed the “most corrupt union” dictate how things should be done. Without regard to veterans proper healthcare!

    Don’t y’all think that money should go for healthcare? Or, maybe to help all the “homeless vets”! Or, maybe even attempting to hire physicians who graduated, not only in America, but at the top of their classes! Instead of physicians who don’t know the difference between the symtoms of diabetes vs. CANCER!

    These are but a few of my thoughts for 1 Aug. 2016!

  5. Here’s a brand new article, 1 Aug. 2016, from;
    “Military Daily News”, by way of the Associated Press.
    by Darlene Superville.
    titled:

    “Obama Pointing to Strides in Veterans Health Care”

    The article discuses “Homelessness among veterans”, “Research among veterans” by way of drawing blood from veterans and how Obama will be speaking at a DAV conference this week.

    I’d really like to know WHAT strides Obama is referencing. Is it the 22 veterans committing suicide each day? Is his “Strides” going to be how he will make it easier? Just what is his agenda? He’s accomplished absolutely nothing since his “Coronation” almost 7 and 1/2 years ago. Except make VA more corrupt!

    Of course we all know the DAV is about as corrupt as the AFGE. So, anything said will not be beneficial to veterans!

    • The DAV will undoubtedly be on the bandwagon of “Saving The VA”….but from what, exactly?

      Saving their ca$h cookie jar. Obama has done MORE to aid our enemies than that of our own military veterans fighting these damn wars. Hell, Obama caters to the potential terrorist refugees by no proper vetting….but as far as “vets”, not so much.

      On another off-topic note: Black Lives Matter group put forward formal demands and agenda: They want reparations for ALL ancestors of slaves in USA. Obama could potentially cater hands and foot to this but…not so much for Veterans.

      Wake me when end of January, 2017 arrives please. 🙂

      • what’s with all this hatred for Obama??? He created a lot less combat veterans than the last president did. or is the color of skin just not the right tint??

        The BLM movement ….. like the original Occupy movement has awoken many Americans to the inequities of our approach to American citizenry. Fixing an unfair system, whether it be the VA, law enforcement, the 1% financial system or criminal justice is important to America’s future.

        Slave reparations …. hmmm …. maybe we could call that retro for past transgressions and gross injustice —- with an effective date of January 1,1654…. just sayin

      • Tom,

        Obama created nobody. Each man and woman who has served in the United States military were created by God amd were born into a free life. The men and women who served our nation chose to do so.

        Insofar as “our approach” to helping citizenry, the data set “our” must include 200 million people +/- 22 as you specified America.

        I will speak on behalf of the 200 million; The only “movement that is universal among all of America and is common to every creed, color, or religion, is the bowel movement. On this point you and I most surely have common ground, but beyond scatolological commonality from your post I suspect that toilet paper technique is all we have in common.

        Now, for full disclosure, there are some websites that even I do not go to. I am sure you can find one that will refute this claim. It seems as valid an issue as anything else you posted there so it just might fly?

      • You weren’t around during the draft years were you? Your post dates you. I was a volunteer but many I served with were conscripted.

      • Some DAV person lady sent out an e-mail. Stating she was going to meet with Obama at some convention. !

        Red t i gave her a challenge to do something about the disruptive committee. !

        Think I will hear back from the concerned DAV Rep.?

        Lol

    • I forgot to add something. Obama is wanting the states, (counties, cities etc.), to help with the veterans homelessness issue. Why? Shouldn’t the VA be responsible? Although that sounds like a great idea. Isn’t VA the ones who receives BILLIONS of taxpayers monies to do that?!
      Think about it. Even though this sounds great. Isn’t this putting extra pressure, through more taxation, on the citizens?
      How much more can America be taxed? All this will do, in my opinion, is make the poor – poorer!

      • Why not force the damn VA to do THIER JOB they are PAID handsomely to do in first place?

        I thought VA Sec. McDonald’s BIG MISSION was to END VETERAN HOMELESSNESS???!! Or, was that ONLY for the State of Hawaii? How’s that working out? Is it more along the lines of , “We at the VA cannot take the “right road”, but we will take the $$$$ for Vet Homelessnes and rely on other agencies to do the work…we are not sorry”!!! RAND Corp. agrees and VA concurs.

        The States are already heavily burdened with State Medicaid for those on Obamacare that cannot afford insurance and those people get ANYTHING and EVERYTHING carte blanche, even free dental…not so much for Veterans.

        Rat Bastards!

    • Obama has made strides in a lot of areas. Just look at all he has done for Peace. There is so much godamn peace in the world because of him personally that they gave him the Nobel peace prize.

      He has made similar strides in veterans healthcare. In Nobel fashion just his awareness that the VA exists is prima facia evidence he deserves another prize. VA is world class (third world) healthcare and I am proud that his strides are all over my butt.

      • @redturtle984

        I hear “Asange’ from Wikileaks is going to be releasing more emails, VERY SOON.
        Proving Obama, Hillary and others are responsible for giving or selling weapons to ISIS AND Al Quida (sic). Which was to topple Assaud in Syria!
        And yet, these weapons are being used to murder our troops!

        Does this bring back memories of “Fast & Furious”?
        Does it remind y’all about South America (Columbia) and the many ‘drug lords’ being supplied with weapons for drugs during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s!
        I believe there’s a person, who comes on here, that can actually give more details about this.

  6. Yes. This Is a first and I hope not the last. ! I am very happy for the employee they got the letter and it proves that it’s easier to say I’m sorry than to keep a lie alive. !

    Still how many got a letter. That used trump saying your fired to employees who tried to do the right thing. !

    It’s always easier to do the right thing. But many employees are to lazy or could care less about what’s going on about them. !

    The letter valadates the employees accountable to quality of care veterans should be getting. It hard on a person when their called a lier and management attacks. !

    Yes. Higher management should put s letter in the employees folder of repermand of the employees involved?

    So. Many Veterans should be getting letters of apologies for the VA falsely accusing them of disruptive behavior.

    Those veterans once reported are forever labeled as s problem. When in fact it was an employee who should have Been punished. !

    I will never let this matter drop. !

    The VA at will is using an illegal system to punish veterans they don’t like. For what ever reason. !

    Our civil. Constitutional and human rights are being ignored and veterans are in real danger of loosing all VA care and are being threaten with arrest and jail time. !

    This means the VA could put you in jail. Using hearsay and the veterans if they can’t hire an attorney. Could end up in jail and loose their disability payments. !

    And for what the joy of an employee retaliation against a veteran. The employee snickering. !
    Andrew off to the next one. You got anything to say. I’ll do the same thing to you. Now sit down hand shut the hell up. !

    So you understand me piss ant veteran. !!!!!!

    They must put employees that hurt veterans in jail for all to see. ! Leed them out on band cuffs. In front of the other employees. !

    Starting with Rubins and Graves. Their employees how have gags I’m their mouths !

  7. Every executive should still resign. They are the ones not telling the full truth to Congress. Bonuses of any type should end. Unlimited EDICARE BENEFITS should be given to all vets now. The volume of patients is too high for The VA to ever catch up.

  8. I am guessing its a template letter. He is likely the authors thoughts as he was writing;

    Dear VA Whistleblower,

    We at VA wanted to thank you for your hardship(?) over abiding by American morals, ethics, laws, and principles. Therefor, I was appointed as an Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operation and Management for….hmmmm was it the VA, FAA, or Justice??? No wait, I got it! It was in the top of the form letter template I am using! I am the ADUSHOM of the VA!

    As ADUSHOM I want to tell you that no organization can succeed. What? Wait a minute, I need mor on that to make it right…oh yeah!!! I got it! Without values!!!

    Damn, the template won’t let me back up because IT is doing a download right now, so please attach morals and values to my sentence.

    I want to thank you damnit, but I can’t because VA templates in our system have no way to do that. What I can tell you is that you have made VA better than it already was! Good luck in your job hunt and career.

    Sincerely,

    …please select one to end letter

    1) Steve Young
    2) David Old
    3) Sharon Hot
    4) Elizibeth Caring

    1)/*. Steve Young

    Steve Young
    ADUSHOMVA

    • Any title over just a few letters should just say “Grand Pooba” and be done with it. One opinion. One vet.

  9. Not only do they let you leave, they will write in the Notes “patient promises not to harm herself” after stating “I will kill myself & you can add me to the number of veterans killing themselves every day because you’ve taken away our pain medication & I am not going back to that place of constant pain” I made no such promise yet its written in the Notes that I did. Don’t fret I’m not ready yet to end it all.

  10. My belief as a Veteran I believe we should get rid of Veterans Regional Council because that you as a Veteran can’t get the information a Veteran you give them so Veterans who reads this what you think?

  11. This would be more believable if Steve Young wasn’t the interim Director of the Phoenix VA when the retaliation occurred against me. He never responded to a single email or request to meet. He allowed the VA Police and HR to come after me full force to include bogus criminal charges even after receiving an external VACO report outlining a failing and corrupt HR dept. I personally sent him emails telling him that local HR had retaliatory animus towards me. He ignored them. He refused to meet with me to discuss the search of my office or the basis for that search. I call BS. More of the same.

  12. Not granting hospitalization for those with suicidal thoughts is VA system wide now. Not just Phoenix or Cheyenne.

    • Are you sure they don’t grant hospitalization to mentally ill vets? Under VA regulation, a person who does not inform their doctor that they are,mentally ill is not entitled to hospitalization. Also, under VA regulation, a person who does say they are mentally ill is displaying cognitive potential which only can manifest in a healthy mind. So they do not qualify for hospitalization.

      The VA only hospitalizes mentally qualified persons. Unqualified people that display symptoms of mental illness are referred to the Disruptive Behavior Committee, a huge cost savings implemented through shrewd management.

      • Under pressure. Not enough beds because of lack of inpatient psychiatrists. VA doesn’t want to pay private care rates and private care facilities don’t want “potentially violent” veterans.

      • Send those people to fight their war’s and see how they should feel then. !

        Make it sound like each and everyone of is a potential threat. They VA already treats us this way. !

        Excuse after Excuse. When are the bonous to little. Veterans get the shaft and the employees get rewarded. !

        Something’s wrong with this picture. !

  13. >So what do you think about the letter? Is this an apology? Or, is this just a way for VA to try to save face without admitting that it harassed its VA employee after he became a whistleblower?

    no, not an apology. never heard VA make one to anyone, to a whistleblower or to veterans granted a CUE.

    would Central Office legal types even allow an apology? hell won’t freeze over anytime soon, that’s for sure.

    another political massage due to the prez speech today?

    • He is very care not to say “thanks”. He does say he would like to thank him. Is that the same thing? I would like to clean my house today. After that I would like to excersize for two hours. I would like to tell me spouse she is pretty. I would like to go take a poo.

      One of those sentences is a statement of fact and the rest mean nothhing.

      “Thank you” means “thank you”. “I apologize” means “I apologize.” “I am going to make it right” means just that. Put the words “I would like to” in front of any and it means zilch.

      • Only exception would be “I would like to go take a poo”, if in-fact I was constipated. I dream of not having chronic diarrhea/IBS, and dream of that holy land of constipation. That dream is like hell freezing over or flying babies with laser harps. So goes heavily veiled quasi-apologies. 🙂

        Yep, in a mood today.

    • An apology would potentially make the VA liable for suicide victims and for victims of violent veterans. Suicide is violence turned inward instead of against others

  14. off topic a bit, but most on this blog will find it interesting i think…

    here is some software to see if patients are lying (from civilian sector):

    http://www.cbs5az.com/story/32583728/asu-researchers-use-facial-recognition-to-tell-if-patients-hide-something-from-doctors

    i think this should be written as a smartphone app for veterans, not doctors, so veterans can document when VA employee’s are lying.

    gee, don’t these researchers know many patients don’t even like going to doctor visits? in the Veteran world, Veterans who have been lied to time & time again, along with that disruptive committee stuff, that would increase bp a bit too when going to a doctor visit, right?

    hey researchers at ASU’s College of Health Solutions, did you forget how many times doctors lie, especially at VA? ponder that!!!!

    • Cantigny
      As my new PC was telling me she would not refill my pain meds due to being medical marijuana patient & that I could go elsewhere for treatment: I had to know what was that look she had on her face. I went out & bought 3 books, What Every Body is saying, LieSpotting & Spy the Lie.

      The look was a Sneer signifying disrespect/disdain; it means “I care little for you or your thoughts”.

      IF she judged me by the look on my face she did not account for the TMJ which gives my face an odd look due to the misaligned disc’s of the jaw joints.

      Menlo Park CA her main office has a comment where the writer also thought those employed there don’t care for veterans – would rather treat the indigent crowd who also have access to free medical care at our Veterans clinic.

      Those books have come in handy watching interviews & politicians live on TV. Even the best of Liars can’t hide all the nonverbal language.

      • Funny how a doctor can give you an addictive opioid without a thought but disdains the use of medical marijuana because of ingrained prejudice even though it is much less addictive and more effective for many.

    • I believe body language, facial expression tell a lot about whats being said ! If a Veteran should tell a social worker or psychologist that you read people this way !

      They will write down, Veteran states he can read minds ! Trying to make you sound crazy !

      If someone throws you the finger, They don’t have to say anything and you know what they mean !

      So, I guess 99% of people can read minds and all must be crazy !

      They VA staff will turn anything they want into a negative if it suits their purpose !

      Just get a copy of your records and you will find stories they write about you and twist what you actually said !

      Try it, I will bet, 99% of veterans will find this in their chart !

      • About 80% have projected their thoughts into my statements and recorded their “analysis” as my words in my chart. It is a bear. But the 20% of accurate reporting plus agreement with the accurate reporting, although disparity exists, allows me room to prove I wouldn’t have said it that way. But then I have a record of over 2500 pages of visits to VA mental health and neurology to use to weed out the miss statements attributed to me. Doing that for an appeal now under the guidance of an attorney.

  15. Hey, namnibor.
    I do believe we’ve got the smell of “Libtard TROLL” in the house! Can you smell the fowl oder of rotten cabbage?

      • namnibor,
        Yes, me too. I was going to hit it hard. Then thought, WTF, OVER. Won’t do a damn bit of good.
        So, let em live for tonight!

  16. I see this letter as, we got caught, yes we harrassed Brandon, but there is no way to weasel out of this so we gave him a settlement and his job back. Now, to try put the genie back in the bottle, we’ll write this letter so it will become pubic, and hopefully management and the AFGE will back off. We don’t like having our ass handed to us.

Comments are closed.