DALLAS — A spokesperson for the Dallas Veterans Affairs Center has confirmed that nurse practitioner Lincy Pandithurai would “retire from federal service” effective Jan. 21 after being accused of anti-gay harassment of a Marine Corps veteran.
Lance Corporal Esther Garatie — an honorably discharged lesbian Marine Corps veteran who was seeking treatment for depression and possible post-traumatic stress disorder — alleged that Pandithurai told her that “the reason you are so upset is because you feel the darkness surrounding you, and you feel guilty about being a homosexual and living in sin.”
“I’m going to prescribe you some anti-depressants, maybe they’ll help, but I’m not saying that you aren’t going to continue to want to kill yourself,” Garatie claimed she was told by Pandithurai.
In a statement released Thursday, the Veterans Affairs said it was able to “substantiate material portions” of Garatie’s allegations:
“The Administrative Investigation Board has completed its investigation. The board was able to substantiate material portions of the veteran’s claims.
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.”
The story first broke last November by the Dallas Voice, who reported that Garatie went in for counseling after suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts. Instead, she was greeted by a bizarre three-hour tirade from nurse Pandithurai.
At the time Garatie told the paper she had initially sought treatment for severe depression and possible post-traumatic stress disorder and after coming to the VA Hospital was screened by Pandithurai who inquired about her sexual orientation.
“She sat down and looked at me, and her first question was, ‘Are you a lesbian?’” Garatie wrote in a statement. “Her second question to me was, ‘Have you asked God into your heart? Have you been saved by Jesus Christ?’”
She concluded, “This is when I realized that I was no longer a United States veteran in her eyes, I was just a homosexual.”
Following the incident, Garatie and a friend, Jessica Gerson, authored a Change.org petition effort calling on the VA hospital for Pandithurai to be fired.
The online petition drew over 19,500 signatures, and in response the VA hospital launched an investigation last November, taking Pandithurai away from patients in the interim.