By Debbie Gregory.
Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., has joined forces with Concerned Veterans for America and Veterans for Common Sense to put a halt to the VA’s purchase of luxury artwork.
Citing the 70,000 veterans who continue to face “unreasonable delays” when attempting to obtain medical care from the embattled agency, Buchanan is working to refocus the agency on problems within its healthcare system.
Purchases made, according to a July report from nonprofit government spending watchdog Open the Books include: $330,000 for a glass-art installation in Palo Alto, $21,500 for an artificial 27-foot Christmas tree, $32,000 for 62 “local image” pictures for the San Francisco VA facility, $100,000 for a “Ribbons of Honor” glass sculpture for a VA outpatient center in Anchorage, AK, $65,000 for artwork for the “interior commons wall and $30,000 for the canteen artwork, and a ridiculous $1.3 million for the installation of a rock sculpture outside a mental health center.
But probably the most outrageous purchases were the “Helmick Sculpture” at a cost of $385,000 and a parking garage exterior wall facade at a cost of $285,000, which were installed the Palo Alto Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center; yes, a facility that serves the needs of blind veterans.
“The VA’s flawed priorities are actively hurting our veterans — on the backs of American taxpayers,” said Dan Caldwell, vice president of policy and communications at Concerned Veterans for America. “While veterans nationwide are struggling to receive basic healthcare, the VA is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on sculptures,”
Anthony Hardie of Veterans for Common Sense said, “There are much more pressing needs and systemic problems at VA facilities around the country that need to be addressed before the VA spends millions of taxpayer dollars on lavish new artwork, including fixing VA’s suicide hotline so it can always provide immediate assistance.”