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Whistleblower optimistic new director will clean up Phoenix VA hospital

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LISTEN: Brandon Coleman, Former United States Marine and VA whistleblower

PHOENIX — A whistleblower said Wednesday that he is optimistic the new head of the Veterans Affairs department will change the culture at a Phoenix VA hospital still struggling to emerge from a national scandal.

“We remain cautiously optimistic that Secretary (David) Shulkin is going to bring change,” Brandon Coleman told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

“Still, it takes time to get these changes put in place.”

Coleman said while Shulkin was not his first choice to lead the VA, he has been impressed by the new secretary so far, especially after Shulkin called for public scrutiny of his agency.

“He’s saying ‘bring it’ because he wants transparency and that’s something that I’ve been yelling from the top of my lungs that the VA needs to do over the past two years in Phoenix is offer some sort of transparency,” Coleman said.

Even though the Phoenix VA has welcomed numerous officials to tour the facility, Coleman doesn’t consider it transparency.

“Phoenix, in typical fashion, they’re great at the dog-and-pony show. They can bring in the president of the United States in — which they’ve done before with President Obama–  and have them talk to exactly who they want to talk to, make sure other people aren’t included, and they can make the hospital look any way they want to,” he said.

Coleman said those crying foul should continue to be heard.

“If we want true transparency, like Shulkin is speaking (of), then whistleblowers need to be heard, too,” he said. “At this point, it’s almost unreal. Everyone wants to act like the VA is OK and there’s nothing else to see here and let’s move forward.

“That’s disappointing, because we’ve got a lot of work to do to fix Phoenix.”

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