Marine lance corporal Esther Garatie (pictured) had sought help at the
VA for severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Nurse
practitioner Lincy Pandithurai reportedly told Garatie that her
emotional problems stemmed from her sexual orientation.
"She sat down and looked at me, and her first question was, 'Are you a lesbian?'" Garatie said in a statement published by the Dallas Voice. "Her second question to me was, 'Have you asked God into your heart? Have you been saved by Jesus Christ?'"
and a friend started a petition on Change.org to have the nurse removed
from her position, and after two months and over 19,000 signatures of
support, they have gotten their wish.
On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the VA Medical Center, confirmed to Change.org that Pandithurai's employment had been terminated.
board was able to substantiate material portions of the veteran's
claims," wrote Monica Smith. "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."
Garatie's friend and
co-petition author, Jessica Gerson, praised the move. "It's reassuring
for me and for the thousands of people who stood with Esther to know
that the Dallas VA Medical Center takes allegations like this
seriously," said Gerson. "But more importantly, gay and lesbian veterans
like my friend Esther should feel comforted that the VA system has
become a little more safe and accepting thanks to the removal of this