Phoenix VA scandal: Whistleblower breaks her silence

PHOENIX - More whistleblowers are coming forward about the corruption at the Phoenix VA.

Employees are claiming they were demoted when they spoke out.

Secretary General Eric Shinseki announced Friday he had started the removal process of top officials at the Phoenix VA.

He made this announcement just before he resigned.

Susan Bowers, VISN Director for District 18 which includes Phoenix, tells ABC15 she received a call from Washington asking her to retire one month early.

Bowers also confirms three top Phoenix VA officials who have been on leave have also been terminated.

Director Sharon Helman, Associate Director Lance Robinson and Chief of Health Administration Services and Brad Curry were also fired.

ABC15 has reached out to the Department of Veterans Affairs to confirm this information, but they have yet to answer our questions.

Meanwhile another Phoenix VA whistleblower is breaking her silence.

"They wanted the numbers to look good,” said Paula Pedene, a VA employee.

Pedene knows what goes on inside the VA.

"They wanted those numbers to appear as if they are doing good because it's reflected in their performance,” said Pedene.

After spending more than 20 years at the VA, she says she saw everything.

"I saw the secret list. I saw staff move the secret list from drawer to drawer to drawer. I saw the secret list get piled together. It was way too big," said Pedene.

A list that would make it seem like veterans were getting seen within the required 14 days, but in reality, wait times were out of control.

“I know the staff tried to bring the list forward, but had to do it anonymously,” said Pedene.

That's because they feared retaliation.

"When you have a culture of fear, it's really hard for anyone to speak up," said Pedene.

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