EXCLUSIVE: Protesters Demand Change as More Internal Temple VA E - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

EXCLUSIVE: Protesters Demand Change as More Internal Temple VA Emails Uncovered

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(KCEN) -- They didn't use rhyming chants or mass-produced signs, but a group of protesters demanded change at a central Texas VA hospital Saturday.

The small protest group has a pretty straightforward goal: get better care for veterans. They say they're prepared to be the squeaky wheel.

It’s just a few people holding a few signs held together with American flag duct tape, but it's a strong message.

“We have to make a change," Chris Coleman shouted at drivers. Coleman is the veteran behind the protest.

“When I go to the VA, the way I see them talk to us, and talk to other veterans, it's not right," he said.

Now he wants to make sure his voice is heard.

“It's just fighting tooth and nail,” said Coleman. “I have to call congressmen to get anything done, and it shouldn't take that."

The protest comes a month after news broke that Temple VA leaders allegedly changed requested appointment dates to boost their bonuses.

"I think that people have allowed money and other things to influence their decisions,” said John Coleman, another protester, “and they need to do what's right for the people."

KCEN has been following the unfolding VA scandal story since it first broke, and over the weekend we got an exclusive look at even more documents that one employee says point to corruption.

It’s another set of internal emails, provided by an employee who wants to remain anonymous out of fear of losing his job.

In one exchange from last August, a doctor asks an employee to "find an exam not over one year and replace it with this."

The employee writes back, "Based on the training I completed on Scheduling it stated that 'you're not to cancel a patient to put another in'." 

Then in an email in October, the associate chief of staff for ambulatory care asks an employee to cancel appointments for vets and schedule them for current soldiers' evaluations.

“Veterans are just shunned away, cast aside, why?” asked Terryl Killion, who drove past the protest Saturday and stopped to see what it was for. “I mean, it's just, it's kind of ridiculous."

It's one reason the protesters spent hours on the side of the road.

“I think it's amazing,” said Madison Brandt, in the same car as Killion. “I think it's wonderful. I think more people should do it."

They pledge to keep doing it until they see results.

“I would like the head of the VA here in Temple to come out and make a statement about what they're going to do to fix this,” Coleman said.

Our VA source said he's tried to bring these issues to his boss's attention before, but nothing's been done.

He says the VA director has a closed-door policy. In fact, just to communicate with their boss, employees have to fill out a form titled “Speak to the Director.”

Part of that form reads “We are interested in input from our patients, their families, and our employees. If you have a comment about any one of our facilities, please share it with us. If we’ve met your expectations, please let us know. If we’ve failed to meet them, please tell us how we can improve.”

The instructions for the form read, “Please share your thoughts in the space provided and drop this sheet in any Speak to the Director box.”    

There are nine lines at the bottom of the page to share your thoughts, with an option to fill in your name and address if you’d like a response.

A lot of veterans have plenty of good to say about the VA, too. They say most of the doctors and other employees are good at their jobs and truly care.

One passerby we talked to Saturday even said the facility saved his father's life this week.

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