Nurse at Center of Furor Over Homophobic Remarks Made to Marine Has Left Dallas VA

The Dallas VA Medical Center nurse who told a lesbian Marine her depression was the result of "living in darkness" as a homosexual will no longer be working for the VA. We first wrote about former marine Esther Garatie back in November, after the Dallas Voice broke the story: Garatie went in for counseling after suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts. Instead, she was greeted by a bizarre three-hour tirade from nurse Lincy Pandithurai, who allegedly told her, among other things, "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."

Now, according to a statement from the VA sent to Unfair Park, the nurse will "retire from federal service January 21, 2012." The email also states that the Administrative Investigation Board "was able to substantiate material portions of the veteran's claims."

"We're very excited," says Jessica Gerson, Garatie's close friend who authored a massive petition calling for Pandithurai's removal.

We have calls in to Garatie and Pandithurai as well for their reactions. Pandithurai didn't respond to previous requests for comment; her husband Gnanadurai told The Dallas Morning News, "Trust me, she wants to talk, but we have to check with our lawyer. This didn't happen the way it's been described. We really don't want to turn this into a religious fight."

The VA's full statement is below.

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.

Ms. Pandithurai will retire from federal service effective January 21, 2012.

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Anna Merlan
Contact: Anna Merlan