A Marine Corps veteran and Addiction Therapist for the Phoenix Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Brandon Coleman witnessed a variety of improper and possibly unlawful practices. In 2014, Coleman disclosed to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) that suicidal veterans had been neglected, and left to walk out of the VA hospital without proper care. Following his disclosure, Coleman learned that his own medical records had been illegally accessed by a VA Social Worker. He was also placed on leave and accused of threatening another employee. After learning of these reprisals, Senator John McCain sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald on Coleman’s behalf, demanding that the VA “change its culture and accord all due protection to whistleblowers within the agency.” Coleman testified before Congress regarding the retaliation he experienced at and subsequently helped to found the VA Truth Tellers, a whistleblowing group.
An investigation by the VA’s Office of the Medical Inspector substantiated Coleman’s disclosures. Furthermore, in 2016, the OSC reported that Coleman’s disclosures helped to prompt improvements to the care of suicidal veterans at the Phoenix VA hospital. The OSC also stated that, although leadership at the hospital was aware of many of these problems, it was not until Coleman contacted the OSC and went public that the hospital began to comply with the preexisting VA directive regarding the care of suicidal patients. The Special Counsel for the OSC said that Coleman likely saved lives through his whistleblowing. In August 2017, Coleman was assigned to the VA’s newly created Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection. Upon the conclusion of his ordeal, Coleman thanked “the fine people at Government Accountability Project; Tom Devine and the [Government Accountability Project] team are a class act, and I will always be grateful for their belief in my case.”