BREAKING: Nurse to retire after Dallas VA Medical Center upholds lesbian Marine vet’s complaint

Esther Garatie

The Dallas VA Medical Center has substantiated allegations that a nurse discriminated against a lesbian Marine veteran who sought mental health treatment, and the nurse will retire effective Saturday, according to a statement released by the hospital today.

The nurse, Lincy Pandithurai of Cedar Hill, had been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the hospital’s investigation into a complaint from 28-year-old Esther Garatie of Irving. Garatie, a former Marine lance corporal who was honorably discharged in 2006, said she sought treatment for severe depression and possible post-traumatic stress disorder — including thoughts of suicide — on Oct. 12.

Garatie alleges that during a two-hour tirade, Pandithurai told her she was living in sin and said that was the reason for her mental health issues. Garatie said the nurse advised her to accept Jesus and become straight.

Monica Smith, a spokeswoman for the VA Medical Center, said in a statement today that the hospital’s Administrative Investigative Board has completed its investigation.

“The board was able to substantiate material portions of the veteran’s claims,” Smith said. “VA North Texas Health Care System will continue to provide an environment where veterans can receive the physical and emotional healing that they desire and deserve. As such, we remain committed to respecting diversity and providing the best possible care to all veterans. Our commitment to equal rights remains strong as we practice our core values of integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence. Ms. Pandithurai will retire from federal service effective January 21, 2012.”

As of this afternoon, a Change.org petition calling for Pandithurai’s termination has almost 20,000 signatures. Garatie also filed a complaint with the Texas Board of Nursing.

—  John Wright