Scottsdale American Legion Post 44 is presenting a special pre-Independence Day program featuring one of the region’s most renown whistleblowers whose disclosures rocked a scandal-ridden Veterans Administration.
Paula Pedene, who continues to advocate for veterans, and will speak at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, at the post, 7145 E. 2nd St.
To this day, the VA has the most whistleblower disclosures of any federal agency thanks to Pedene. Her journey to get there was daunting, and she will share her compelling story and sign copies of her new award-winning book, “A Sacred Duty.”
“Duty” tells the story of how Pedene found herself at war with an institution “bent on erasing her” and how her faith, perseverance, and grit were able to help her win her whistleblower case against the Phoenix Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System.
Pedene, a legally blind, 54-year-old, decorated U.S. Navy veteran endured a campaign to destroy her personally and professionally.
She exposed the waits and delays for VA health care amongst our nation’s veterans. When the scandal broke, both the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and the Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel were forced to resign.
Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman was later fired for ethical violations and became a convicted felon. After the story broke in Phoenix, the VA learned that 111 VA hospitals across the country were unethically delaying health care for our nation’s veterans.
Due to the disclosures of Pedene and others, the VA became a lightning rod for whistleblower disclosures and, to this day, has the most filings of whistleblower cases of any agency. “I believe that as we pause to reflect on our nation’s independence, it’s important to reflect on the need to support our veterans and stand up for what it takes to maintain these freedoms,” said Pedene. “My story is one that I hope will inspire others to maintain the focus on doing what’s right for those who have served our country,” she added.
Pedene says writing her book helped her heal.
“I was mentally exhausted from the thousands of papercuts the leaders and bureaucracy were hitting me with each day. Writing the book gave me time to reflect, see all sides, cry, and heal to a better degree,” she added.
The book has won two national awards, the grand prize winner in the 2018 Book Pipeline competition and grand prize in the 2021 Skyrocket Press contest.