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Phoenix VA whistleblower receives invitation from White House

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

PHOENIX — First, telling the truth nearly cost whistleblower Brandon Coleman his job at the Phoenix VA. Now, it’s gotten him an invitation to the White House.

Coleman will watch President Donald Trump sign an executive order Thursday that creates a Veteran Affairs Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.

“What a ride, what a country, what a life. … It’s amazing,” Coleman told KTAR’s Arizona’s Mornings News on Thursday.

Coleman, an addiction counselor, was placed on administrative leave for nearly two years after calling out the hospital for mismanagement of suicidal patients in 2015, then again for not protecting whistleblowers.

An Office of Accountability review found evidence that Coleman had been retaliated against in 2015.

“(Whistleblowers) call every week, crying, losing everything, the retaliation that’s going on,” Coleman said. He sat home for 18 months on administrative leave.

Coleman has been relentless in his efforts to get protection for employees who point the finger at VA wrongdoing, with repeated meetings on Capitol Hill and appearances at hearings.

“I believe the secretary (VA Secretary David Shulkin) wants to make this work. I hope more people step up,” he said.

“Three of my children are currently serving on active duty. They will call Phoenix, Arizona home when they come home and they deserve top-notch health care from the Department of Veteran Affairs.”

Getting things set right compelled Coleman to keep fighting to help vets, but getting a call from the White House was a pretty nice prize, too.

“I knew it was official when I got the White House call for the back ground check,” Coleman said. “I started giggling.”

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