It's come to light via a watchdog organization called Open the Books that the Veterans Administration spent $19.7 million on “high-end” artwork for their facilities during the height of the VA crisis.
Adam Andrzejewski, founder of Open the Books, wrote in Forbes:
"In the now-infamous VA scandal of 2012-2015, the nation was appalled to learn that 1,000 veterans died while waiting to see a doctor. Tragically, many calls to the suicide assistance hotline were answered by voicemail. The health claim appeals process was known as ‘the hamster wheel’ and the appointment books were cooked in seven of every ten clinics.
Yet, in the midst of these horrific failings the VA managed to spend $20 million on high-end art over the last ten years—with $16 million spent during the Obama years...
All of this artwork comes with a long-term price tag in the form of diminished care for our veterans."
According to The Washington Free Beacon, some of the extravagant items include, but are not limited to:
- A 27 foot fake Christmas tree $21,000
- Two sculptures to be featured at a facility for blind veterans $670,000
- “Art consultants for the Palo Alto facility” $115,600
- 62 “local images” from San Fransisco $32,000
- A “Ribbons of Honor” glass piece $100,000
Open the Books is calling on the VA to feature art by actual veterans. That way, instead of spending hundreds of thousands on high-end art by outsiders, the VA would be giving back to vets.
Fox News quotes Andrzejewski:
“No one tells the veterans' story better than a veteran... Veterans themselves should benefit from art displays, not vendors who sell the VA pricey art.”
Independent Journal Review spoke with two veteran artists, who allowed us to display their stunning work.
Teri McCans did two tours in Iraq, and continues to serve her community as a firefighter. All of her work is breathtaking, but her watercolor paintings dealing with military service deserve to be on display at VA facilities:
McCans told us that the above paintings are meant to represent the “vulnerability” of our soldiers:
“I wanted to bring discussion on the misconceptions people have about the military—that everybody's just a trained killer,” McCans said. “We were often defending ourselves in a time of guerilla warfare.”
Jeffery Kausek is a Marine veteran, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like McCans, Kausek's work is visually stunning, but his military-themed and patriotic pieces are equal parts inspiring and heartbreaking:
The featured image for this article is one of Kausek's. It's an American flag made up of letters he wrote to his family in the event he was killed in action. In the upper-left corner, where the stars would normally be, are images of his friends who died in combat.
The VA would do well to consider art like that of McCans and Kausek, instead of spending millions of dollars on giant Christmas trees and art consultants.