VA employees being threatened to sign petition in support of embattled doctor

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A new campaign at the Phoenix VA to keep a doctor in power (Source: KPHO/KTVK) A new campaign at the Phoenix VA to keep a doctor in power (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Petition circulating to restore Chief of Medicine Dr. Darren Derring's job (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Petition circulating to restore Chief of Medicine Dr. Darren Derring's job (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
VA employee Jared Kinnaman speaking about VA problems (Source: KPHO/KTVK) VA employee Jared Kinnaman speaking about VA problems (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Department of Veterans Affairs employees claim they're being threatened to sign a petition to save a man's job or else as another insider is coming forward to shed light on the latest developments inside the troubled Phoenix VA.

It's a campaign to keep Chief Medical Dr. Darren Deering in power and the approach may be illegal. What is happening inside the VA and the rally of support for what they call corruption has employees not only fearing for their jobs, but also coming forward and risking everything to make it stop. 

"It's an absolute shocker that that would happen within our system," said employee Jared Kinnaman. "I can't believe that they would allow that to happen."

He's talking about fear and intimidation within the VA walls. The vocational rehabilitation specialist came forward Thursday because he simply couldn't keep quiet any longer.

"To my knowledge, it's not a legal practice. It's unethical. It shouldn't happen in our environment," Kinnaman said. "If that's the decision of our higher ups today, it needs to stay the decision of the higher ups."

[READ MORE: Special section: VA hospital troubles]

Kinnaman is referring to support letters and multiple alleged petitions that are circulating inside the VA to save Deering, who is now faced with being fired amid fallout from the hospital's wait-list scandal. A petition that was created online where more than 400 people have signed it, asking the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to restore the doctor's job. But Kinnaman says not every signature necessarily represents support.

"I've had a couple of employees come up to me and say that they felt threatened by the petitions," he said.

Threatened by management and those insiders say Dr. Deering helped cover up for in the past.  A letter written by Chief of Social Work David Jacobson, rallies up support for the doctor, asking employees for examples of how he supported them.

[RELATED: VA employees allowed to work excessive overtime]

Dr. Kathryn Carbone, Chief Medical Service, called the doctor in an email of support "our rock."

"It just perpetuates the culture here." Kinnaman said. "It's gonna take a lot to change places."

Kinnaman says once a whistleblower brought it to the attention of VA Director Deborah Amdur Wednesday afternoon and said we would be reporting on the practices, she sent out an email asking employees "as leaders to remain neutral."  

"I think it was a little soft," Kinnaman said. "I don't think the appropriate steps were taken. It is truly an illegal act then there should have been some sort of personal action taken."  

Kinnaman said he's afraid for coming forward and loosing his job but said the truth needed to be told. We are still waiting for a response from VA leadership and an interview with Director Amdur.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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