Here’s The Artwork The VA Paid For Instead Of Caring For Veterans

Jonah Bennett | Contributor

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) complained about threadbare budgets and threatened medical rationing in a budget standoff earlier this year, but an annual report from Sen. [crscore]Jeff Flake[/crscore] released Tuesday notes the VA blew millions on artwork and “unnecessary junkets.”

Taxpayers meanwhile had to bail out the VA, even as wait times have increased by 50 percent.

In September 2014, the department purchased $1.8 million of artwork.

According to data from the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California also shelled out $6.3 million for art and consulting services. The mental health center at the facility received $1.3 million for courtyard renovation. This resulted in an allocation of $482,960 for a big rock. The rock, according to designers, is cut into cubes to evoke a sense of self-transformation.

The VA also spent $285,000 on a “Horizon” on the side of a parking garage.

In another case, the VA spent $365,000 for an aluminum sculpture. This sculpture was placed in the aquatic center. The facility also spent $305,000 for yet another sculpture in a lobby.

The mental health center featured a half arc sculpture, adding up to $330,000. More parking garage artwork showing quotes from Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt in Morse code cost $285,000.

Not all of these projects are finished. This means, according to GOP Rep. [crscore]Jeff Miller[/crscore], chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, “these costs actually could increase.”

Aside from artwork, the VA spent $33.4 million in fiscal year 2015 on pleasure trips, known as junkets, to conferences.

“Spending money on conferences and relocation expenses for VA employees and on art installations for VA facilities is not more important than taking care of the veterans of this Nation, providing them the health care that they have earned,” Miller says, according to the report.

“It is simply beyond me why VA would choose to pay to complete the Denver project by cutting medical services and medical facility dollars, but not the exorbitant conference spending, bloated relocation expenses, or art.”

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Tags : department of veterans affairs house veterans affairs committee jeff miller
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