The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) took a crucial step forward to increase transparency and accountability by hiring someone who has first-hand experience of the systemic toxic culture at the VA. Brandon Coleman, a Marine veteran who worked at the Phoenix VA hospital as an addiction therapist was hired to work at the new VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection on Monday.
As a counselor at the Phoenix VA, Coleman was retaliated against after he reported problems that he believed led to several Marines committing suicide. Coleman’s superior threatened him by saying “that’s how people get fired.” This egregious threat was followed by a social worker who improperly went through Coleman’s records in order to try to claim he was not fit to serve as a counselor.
Although Coleman settled a lawsuit with the VA and returned to his work, there was little to no effort by the previous administration to overhaul the VA to prevent acts like this from happening again. That changed when President Trump created an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection and Congress passed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. These efforts are necessary to incentivize good behavior and discourage employees from engaging in illegal or unethical activity.
If the VA’s culture is to truly change, hiring people who have been through the very worst of the VA is vital to identify areas where reform can take place. Brandon Coleman has partnered with CVA for years and has worked tirelessly to defend veterans across the country from the problems that plagued the Phoenix VA. We commend Coleman’s hire and look forward to him continuing helping and protecting his fellow veterans in the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.