My decision to become a whistle-blower after 24 years as a physician in a Veterans Affairs hospital was, at first, an easy one. I knew about patients who were dying while waiting for appointments on the V.A.’s secret schedules, and I couldn’t stay silent.
But there was no response to the two letters I sent to the Veterans Affairs inspector general, one in late October 2013 and one in early February. Going public would damage an institution I gave more than two decades of my life to, trying to make a better place for veterans to get their care. But I had to be able to sleep at night.
I retired from the Phoenix V.A. medical center in December 2013. When there was no reply to my February letter, I contacted Eric Hannel, a staff director for the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and told him what I knew. I also contacted Dennis Wagner, a reporter at The Arizona Republic, who had already been reporting on the problems at the Phoenix V.A. hospital.