One of the most controversial remarks made by Hillary Clinton – a 2016 Democratic presidential candidate -- during her interview with MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Friday night came when the party's frontrunner quoted “a number of surveys” that claimed “overall, veterans who get treated” in Veterans Administration facilities “are satisfied with their treatment.”
That remark drew a challenge from retired U.S. Marine Brandon Coleman, who on Monday told Elisabeth Hasselbeck -- one of the hosts of the weekday morning Fox & Friends program -- that he was prepared to give Clinton a tour of the Phoenix VA facility “whenever she wants to do it, unannounced.”
“I don't understand why we have such a problem,” Clinton stated on Friday night, “because there have been a number of surveys of veterans and overall, veterans who do get treated are satisfied with their treatment.”
Maddow agreed, stating that this positive assessment is “much more so than people in the regular health-care system.”
Clinton then noted:
That's exactly right. Now, nobody would believe that from the coverage that you see and the constant berating of the VA that comes from the Republicans in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda.
“But in part because there has been real scandal,” the host replied.
“There has been, but it's not been as widespread as it has been made out to be,” Clinton stated.
“Huh,” Hasselbeck stated after watching that clip on Monday with the words “Abandoned Brothers” on the screen. “Well, try telling that to veterans like Brandon Coleman. He blew the whistle on the Phoenix VA for mishandling records there.”
As part of the tour, Coleman stated:
I'd like to take her by the urology clinic, where 45 veterans were not getting the care they deserved with Stage 4 cancer.
I'd also like to show her the emergency room where suicidal and high-risk veterans were able to walk out. You know, we caught them on tape in January, admitting that this was happening.
In addition, “I would show her a success story and show her the Motivation for Change program, where high-risk veterans were getting the substance abuse and suicidal ideation treatment they needed,” the retired Marine noted.
“However, the week after I was taken out of my position, that program was shut down by the Phoenix VA director,” he indicated.
“You were punished for blowing the whistle,” Hasselbeck noted. “Do you believe that statements like this by Hillary Clinton actually justify the actions of those who punished you for coming forward and saying there's a problem?”
“You know, I don't think they justify [his treatment], and for Mrs. Clinton to say that it's an isolated incident … ,” Coleman said before abruptly changing his topic:
I'm prepared to meet her wherever she wants to meet. She can pick a VA facility. I’ll name some off for her right now: Tomah, Chicago, Minneapolis; we can go to Florida, we can go to South Carolina, Albuquerque, Los Angeles.
There's just an endless list. We can talk to front-line employees, and I bet you they'll have similar stories to mine as to what’s going on at the VA.
“I hope she meets your challenge and has some eyes opened,” the co-host then stated. “Even president Obama called the VA misconduct 'inexcusable' and 'outrageous.' How can Hillary Clinton be so off the mark? Why is she taking this position that 'it's not as bad as they're making it out to be?'”
“I think the easy way out for her to say it's a right-wing conspiracy,” Coleman responded before stating: “This has nothing to do with party politics. I'm not a Republican; I'm not a Democrat; I'm a veteran.”
He added: “There's a cancer within the VA that runs deep. It's from top to bottom. It's full of corruption and whistleblower retaliation.”
In an attempt to prove the issue is a bipartisan one, Coleman said: “Last week, leaders within the Democratic Party,” including Sen. Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut, “called for a DOJ [Department of Justice] investigation” regarding two high-level employees who took over $400,000 in moving expenses.
Along with pointing out this “highly questionable” action, Coleman noted that Sen. Patty Murray of Washington “came forward, saying that the Choice Program is just not working, and it needs to be overhauled.”
“Last week,” he continued, “there was a bipartisan vote, a unanimous vote in the House [of Representatives] calling for the subpoenas to bring these corrupt leaders to D.C. They're ordering them to D.C. next month.”
“I think we need to work on this together,” Coleman concluded. “It’s not a right or left issue, it’s an American issue.”