A veteran allegedly committed suicide in parking lot in the Department of Veterans Affairs' parking lot in Phoenix, Arizona, an event that is being seen as a protest against the failure of the VA to provide adequate treatment to veterans.
Fox News affiliate KSAZ reported early Tuesday morning that 53-year-old Thomas Murphy drove to the VA lot, and left a note in the car before apparently taking his life with a gun. The report said a witness watched as Murphy drove into the lot, and then heard a gunshot.
Brandon Coleman, a Marine Corps veteran who is a VA employee and a VA whistleblower, told KSAZ that he believes Murphy's suicide was a protest against the VA.
"I don't think there's anything more symbolic than to complete suicide on VA grounds," Coleman said. "I think he would want to speak with us about this, I think it was an ultimate show of disregard and just frustration with a broken system."
Both Republicans and Democrats have blasted the VA for more than a year now about the VA's failure to get veterans the medical care they need, and have said more care for veterans with suicidal thoughts is also needed. But the VA remains a broken agency even after Congress passed a bill to fix things up — wait times are still long for health care, whistleblowers still face retaliation from the VA, huge bonuses continue to be paid to top officials, and no one has been fired yet for their role in the scandal.
Coleman himself has been the subject of retaliation for being a whistleblower. He told TheBlaze last month that VA officials went through his medical files, and he told KSAZ that he has been put on paid leave after complaining about this unauthorized access.
The Phoenix VA is seen by many as the center of the VA's problems, and the former director there, Sharon Helman, was finally removed earlier this year. However, Helman is now suing the VA to get her job back.
One of her lawyers is Debra Roth, a lawyer who also serves as general counsel to the Senior Executives Association. That group has opposed legislation making it easier to fire senior officials for corruption or negligence, has dismissed the idea that the health care access problem at the VA is a "scandal" at all, since no one has been fired because of it.