VA takes tape from reporter investigating treatment of vets

Agency staffers reportedly stopped and threatened a journalist until he gave up his recording of an interview with a veteran who'd complained of mistreatment.

Published April 10, 2009 10:30PM (EDT)

Some disturbing news out of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: A radio reporter in a VA hospital for a public event was interviewing one veteran complaining of horrendous mistreatment when agency employees reportedly interrupted to shut the interview down and demand the recording of the interview.

WAMU reporter David Schultz was talking to Tommie Canady, who has terminal pancreatic cancer, and who says the VA has mistreated him and other minority veterans. Among other things, Canady told Schultz that on two occasions a nurse -- who remains on staff -- gave him an overdose of morphine.

According to another Washington, D.C. area radio station, WTOP, Schultz was confronted by VA staffer Gloria Hairston, who demanded an end to the interview and -- assisted by six other employees, four of them armed security guards -- confiscated his equipment until he agreed to hand over the Flash memory card from his recorder. When another veteran, this one in a wheelchair, asked Schultz for his phone number, Hairston shut that down as well, telling him she would "get ugly" if he didn't give her his equpment. The VA has yet to return the memory card.

"What I mostly feel bad about is Mr. Canady," Schultz told WTOP. "He was trying to tell his story, he has an amazing story and he was denied a chance to tell his story to the media because of these tactics."

(Hat-tip to Jake Tapper.)

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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