“(Paula Pedene) was a 20-year employee at the hospital who oversaw everything from news releases to the hospital newsletter to the annual Veterans Day parade. In 2010, Pedene joined a group that complained to VA’s upper management about the Phoenix hospital’s director. They alleged that the director had allowed budget shortfalls and berated subordinates. And it seemed to work. VA’s inspector general investigated and found an $11 million shortfall in the hospital’s budget. The director retired voluntarily. ‘I felt we had actually done the right thing,’ Pedene said. But that turned out to be the beginning of her troubles, not the end.”

David Fahrenthold

Aug. 3, 2014

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The Story

A SACRED DUTY is the true story of Paula Pedene, a visually impaired, decorated Navy veteran whose life and family start to unravel when she’s targeted for retaliation after bringing to light mismanagement and harassment at a Veterans Administration hospital.

Psychologically crippled by the attacks – and battling financial ruin, ruthless superiors, a skeptical media, and her two sons’ emotional crises – she fights back, refusing to surrender to a system that is stacked against her. 

Working with a bulldog congressional investigator, an ornery VA doctor, and a husband who believes in her, she becomes a central figure in exposing a conspiracy that rocked the nation, killed dozens of veterans, provoked nationwide outrage, and ultimately brought down the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The Authors

Paula Pedene

Paula Pedene, APR, Fellow PRSA has a well-earned reputation as a public relations strategist and counselor in both government and non-profit realms.  

She currently serves as Executive Director of the nonprofit Honoring America’s Veterans and as Owner/Principal of her own public relations firm Paula Pedene & Associates.  In these roles, she provides strategic counsel to senior leaders and managers and to build trusted relationships between the organizations and their stakeholders.

Pedene is a five-time PRSA Silver Anvil award recipient for Institutional Programs (2004) Reputation Management (2007) Community Outreach (2010, 2020) and Public Service (2020).  

Her leadership awards include the Percy Award from the Phoenix PRSA Chapter, the Platinum Leadership Award from the PRSA Western District and the Senator John McCain Inspirational Leadership Award in Arizona.

She is a member of the PRSA College of Fellows, a member of the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards and she  earned distinction as a PRSA PR Pro of the Year (2015) for her ethical stand as a Phoenix VA Whistleblower. In this realm she was able to help expose the VA Wait Time Scandal and call for change to legislation and accountability within the Department of Veterans Affairs

Doug Williams

Doug Williams is a playwright, novelist, and award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker.

His script Black Star Rising, based on the life of Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan has been recognized in over 30 film festivals, winning six best screenplay awards; A Bullet For Your Thoughts, which he wrote and produced, has been honored in 12 festivals and won five best short film awards; and his plays have been produced in New York and regionally.

Critics compared his novel, the political thriller Nowhere Man, to Homeland and House of Cards. He is also a former journalist and served as a press secretary in the U.S. Senate.

In The News

Get in Touch

Email: paula@pedene.com
Phone: (480) 772-2934

5957 East Aster Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85254


"At its core, A SACRED DUTY is Paula's  journey as a Whistleblower.  She takes us through the ordeal of when she found herself at war with an institution bent on erasing her. More than that, however, in confronting this particular Goliath, Paula Pedene discovered the David within her."
Roger French
Employee Representative
“VA has a mission of life and death consequences for America’s veterans. In a warm, down to earth manner, Paula Pedene speaks from the heart about how much it cost to successfully defend her principles. She is the invisible hero whose whistleblowing pioneered exposure of a national medical care breakdown. As a result, her life was a multi-year waking nightmare.. For anyone who wants to know the facts of life about being a public servant trying to make a difference in a hostile bureaucracy – read this book!”
Tom Devine
Legal Director, Government Accountability Project
“Veteran lives were at risk. Nobody would listen. Entrenched bureaucrats thought they could bury the scandal. Paula Pedene knew different.”
Jeff Miller