While our nation’s brave veterans endured endless waits for needed care, the Department of Veteran Affairs spent $20 million on expensive artwork between 2004 and 2014. According to a new report by Open the Books, a nonprofit organization that that claims to be the world’s largest private database of government spending, the outrageous expenditures included $1 million allocated for the courtyard of a Palo Alto, CA facility, a $330,000 glass-art installation, and hundreds of other costly purchases.
Click here for an itemized list of the VA’s art purchases between 2004 and 2014.
Lawmakers and veterans alike are understandably incensed. These expenses came during a time when veterans were dying waiting for care – in fact, as many as 40 veterans died while waiting for care in the VA’s Phoenix Healthcare System, which the VA admitted was understaffed and overwhelmed at the time. Yet instead of allocating financial resources to alleviate this problem, they chose instead to decorate the side of a parking garage with light-up Morse code to the tune of $280,000, among other unnecessary expenses.
Republican Senator Mark Kirk demanded a “moratorium on art spending by the VA” in a July 26 letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald. In the letter, he pointed out that “the VA has not taken the directive… to stop excessive, non-veteran spending on artwork.” The VA, however, defended its spending, claiming that caring for veterans goes beyond just providing healthcare services and “the most advanced medical treatments.” They claim that artwork is necessary to create a “healing environment” that aids in recovery. Try telling that to the countless veterans waiting months or even years for appointments.
The 2017 budget request is $182.3 billion. In light of the new report, hopefully the VA will rethink its spending habits in the interest of truly putting veterans first.
The needs of veterans should NEVER be forgotten by the country that they have served. If your application for benefits has been denied, get in touch with a veterans disability attorney at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers. Led by Vietnam veteran George Sink, our firm understands how difficult and frustrating the application process can be. The VA system is notorious for not being user-friendly, so leave it to us! We’re prepared to do what it takes to help get you the money you deserve as quickly as possible.
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