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Douche of the Week: The Veterans Administration
By RU Contributor Jack Mandaville
I woke up in a fantastic mood the other afternoon. That hot British chick, Leona Lewis, was on my radio alarm clock. The smell of fresh Dunkin Donuts coffee was coming from my kitchen. No barking from the dog, no smog, and momma cooked a breakfast with no hog. Yes, it looked like it was going to be a good day.
Then I get an email from RU Rob making me aware of the latest controversy involving the Department of Veterans Affairs and, once I looked into it a little, my douche‘o’meter went ballistic.
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Inspector General are alleging that the VA spent anywhere between $3 million and $9 million on two HR conferences in Orlando, FL last year. Some of these expenses include $84,000 on VA-branded items like pens, highlighters, and hand sanitizer; $3,000 on two photographers, and a shit-ton of other expenditures for things like alcohol, concert tickets, helicopter rides, and spa treatments.
My buddy, Troy S., got blown up three times in Iraq and it took the Houston VA three years to get him in for a CAT scan after his Honorable Discharge—and these motherfuckers are droppin’ taxpayers’ cash-money on FUCKING SPA TREATMENTS!
Dear Lord, there are not nearly enough words to convey this epic level of douchefuckery.
But here’s the best part: These douchewads spent $52,000 on a few HR video parodying one of the most beloved war films in our nation’s history.
I’m a movie buff, myself. And if I’m not mistaken, this is roughly the same amount of money that Kevin Smith spent when he made Clerks back in the early nineties. But unlike Smith—whose feature length film had in-depth characters, turned a huge profit, and launched a successful directorial career—the majority of the VA’s fourteen minute HR video highlights a D-Grade actor (who looks like George C. Scott if he had Progeria) standing in front of a green screen while bastardizing the opening monologue in Patton. The rest of the video is your standard stock footage montage of VA personnel walking around facilities and a few interviews with employees all talking about the hard work they do for Vets. How this thing cost over $50,000 is beyond me.
Look, people, there’s a reason why I’m more pissed off than normal about this thing. The VA’s PR machine pumps out a never-ending string of stories, videos, and testimonials talking about how much they care about Veterans and all the great work they do around their facilities. I’ve been seeing these things for over six years now. You know that old saying?.. “Perception is reality”? If you’ve ever been involved with this system, you know exactly where my rage is coming from.
I guarantee you if I sat down a group of ten Vets and asked them what they thought of the VA system, I would get nothing but scoffs and eye rolling right off the bat. People don’t want to keep hearing about how much hard work the VA does for them when what we see is a completely different thing.
The most trusted news outlet for active-duty Servicemembers and Veterans, The Duffel Blog, recently did an article titled, “Veterans Affairs Hires 27,000 Additional Worker To Procrastinate, Collect Paycheck.” Sadly, and I think we can all agree on this, that piece wouldn’t have been so clever and funny if there wasn’t a great deal of truth behind it. That’s not just another TDB headline, that’s the VA in a nutshell. And this latest controversy is not doing anything to better their case.
Now, to the VA’s credit, they have appropriately responded to the outrage, stating: “Some of this material should have never been produced and misuse of taxpayer funds is completely unacceptable. These events took place over a year ago and we have already adopted new rules that reflect our continuing commitment to safeguarding tax dollars.”
That’s all good and whatnot, but here’s the only problem with that statement. We’ve been at war for over eleven years now, which means we’ve had a fresh crop of Veterans returning for that amount of time. Since this conference took place in 2011, they had ample time to work out these kinks in budgeting. We’ve been bombarded with stories regarding the VA’s misuse of funds for years now. How could they have pulled off such a gross waste of taxpayers’ money within such a recent timeframe?
I’ve served with many individuals who currently work for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. I can testify that they’re truly passionate about helping their fellow Veterans… as I’m sure a lot of VA personnel are. But those people are pushing through a storm that is plagued with apathy and detachment.
So that is why the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and its leadership are now banished to Douchebagistan. While there, they will be forced to hold conferences in cheap Reno motels and will have to endure the same kind of micromanagement as recruit in his first day of bootcamp.