Arlington, VA — Brandon Coleman, a whistleblower from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in Phoenix, has accepted a job at VA headquarters in the new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.
Coleman, a Marine Veteran, was retaliated against after speaking up about problems at the Phoenix VA which may have been contributing to veterans’ suicides. At the time, Coleman was working at the facility as an addictions therapist. When he spoke up, Coleman’s supervisor told him: “that’s how people get fired.” Coleman’s superiors then put him on paid leave, improperly accessed his medical records and issued him a gag order forbidding him from speaking to his colleagues or the press.
Coleman later settled a lawsuit with the VA and was allowed to return to work.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“Whistleblowers who bravely flag problems at the VA should be thanked, not silenced. But under the last administration, many whistleblowers like Brandon faced retaliation from their own government. VA leadership was more interested in sweeping things under the rug than facing the systemic problems that plagued the department.
“Brandon’s hire shows that Secretary Shulkin is serious about ushering in a new era of accountability at the VA. Giving whistleblowers a seat at the table will be a critical step in understanding how to solve problems on the ground at VA facilities across the country.
“Brandon is a friend of CVA and we are proud of his perseverance in the face of adversity. We commend Brandon for his dedicated service to his fellow veterans, and we applaud Secretary Shulkin for a wise hiring decision.”
For years, CVA has partnered with Brandon Coleman to raise issues about problems at VA facilities across the country. Most recently, Brandon was featured in a CVA “Defend the First” video outlining the consequences of whistleblower retaliation to free speech in an American democracy.
Earlier this year, President Trump signed an executive order establishing an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the VA. Later, Congress passed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, a bill which empowers Secretary Shulkin with the ability to fire bad VA employees more easily.