Phoenix V.A. whistleblower lands new gig with federal watchdog office

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Brandon Colemon will be a staff member at  the new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection in Washington. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Brandon Colemon will be a staff member at the new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection in Washington. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photo) Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photo)
"It was a huge victory for whistleblowers,” Coleman said. “To think that the agency that tried to destroy me, and now I'm being paid to help them fix this mess, that's humbling." "It was a huge victory for whistleblowers,” Coleman said. “To think that the agency that tried to destroy me, and now I'm being paid to help them fix this mess, that's humbling."
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A man who nearly lost his job for exposing inadequate care in the VA scandal has a new gig. He's now working for Washington to be a warrior for other whistleblowers. 

As an addiction therapist with the Phoenix VA, Brandon Coleman was one of the first employees brave enough to speak out after he witnessed five suicidal veterans leaving the hospital without receiving help.

"They weren't being watched, so I came forward because of that. At the same time as a disabled Marine who receives my care through the VA, employees were rifling through my medical records," said Coleman.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Veterans Health Administration Scandal]

For his actions, he was suspended for more than a year. He says it's that same kind of retaliation that has kept many more employees silent.

"The VA does a lot of good for a lot of people, and at the same time there's a culture of fear that employees have that they're too afraid to speak up," said Coleman.  

[RELATED: Phoenix VA Director speaks about new improvements]

To change that, President Donald Trump created the new 'Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection' this past spring.

[READ MORE: Trump signs law to make VA more accountable for vets' care]

And Coleman has been invited to be one of its first staff members.

"It was a huge victory for whistleblowers,” he said. “To think that the agency that tried to destroy me, and now I'm being paid to help them fix this mess, that's humbling."

His new role begins in early September.

"As of now, if whistleblowers can finally be brought to the table, we're going to find out what the problems are. And if we can get management to listen instead of hunting the whistleblowers like has been done in the past we can get the problem solved, which betters the care for our nation's heroes,” said Coleman. 

[RELATED: Concerned Vets for America speaks out on anniversary of VA scandal]

[RELATED: Continued delays for veterans at Phoenix VA system, report shows (Oct. 4, 2016)]

[RELATED: Valley vet wants to use $2.5 million legal victory to improve care at Phoenix VA]

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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