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Indy woman claims VA hospital forced her to retire

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A local 87-year-old woman is out of a job, frustrated and heartbroken. She worked at the VA Hospital in Indianapolis for decades, until the COVID-19 crisis changed everything. 

Martie Tamer spent more than 30 years as a medical support assistant. When her unit got turned into a designated COVID-19 unit, she knew this would impact her asthma.

Years on the surgical and intensive care unit paid off. Tamer was presented with the “Special Contribution” award at the 30-year mark.

It’s a place close to her heart. Her father was a Navy veteran in World War II.

Every year, letters were left on her desk or in her locker. Patients wanted to thank Tamer for her help, smile and passion for others.

After the outbreak of COVID-19, her doctor encouraged her to temporarily take time off. She says she requested for extended leave under the “donated leave program,” as her asthma is life-threatening.

She says she was denied and forced to retire immediately. She has been without pay for more than a month while waiting to hear from the VA hospital.

Tamer says she only had three months left to pay off some major bills and was planning to retire soon.

“It’s left a really bad taste for me because the people I worked with at the VA were wonderful people and I am going to miss them terribly,” she said. “I will miss them every day. I would have continued working until I was probably 88, which would have been July. That would have taken me to the full 33 years, I think.”

Tamer says continuing to work at her age kept her alive. She made sure x-rays were ordered, labs got to the right nurses and helped patients get admitted and discharged. Hearing from previous patients made her feel like she was meant to stay.

News 8 reached out to the VA. They do not favor discussing staff employment issues with others and say patient and staff privacy is a confidential tenet of VA healthcare administration.

Those who know Tamer have created a GoFundMe page to help her before retirement kicks in. More than $1,100 has already been raised.

To donate, click here.