VA’s Big Bad Budget for Advertising
Last week, VA was reported to have spent $1 million on advertising just before the shutdown. But sources reveal the real number was 5 times higher.
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-FL, Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, revealed this week that his statement during the hearing was radically lower.
Committee staffers uncovered that the actual advertising budget was $5 million just prior and into the shutdown. The Committee Chairman released this revelation on October 14, 2013.
Yesterday, in response, VA was cited in two articles published by Military Times. One was written by reporter Rick Maze. The other was an editorial with no writer noted.
I will break down those articles here.
VA criticized for ad campaign that has already ended
According to Military Times, the House committee initially believed VA was only spending on advertising in the DC metro area. They later realized VA had numerous other advertising contracts across the country.
Similar ads were placed in 20 other markets that included: Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Diego.
The Military Times did not report on what companies where paid to run the advertising campaigns.
VA spokeswoman Victoria Dillon claimed the ads were part of a comprehensive outreach campaign. Its goal is to “… inform veterans of the benefits and services they have earned and deserved.”
Curiously, this article highlights the fact that the ads had ended by the time Congress had an opportunity to critique the spending.
This falsely implies that Congress has timely access to information from VA in a manner that would allow Congress to stop the spending before it happens.
Instead, Congress is lucky to find out about VA’s largess after it happens, at any point. When Congress does try to get information, VA has historically stalled its delivery of data by months and months and months.
For that reason, the article written by Maze appears to be more of a hit piece, written for the purpose of putting a spin on the Chairman’s critique of bad policies running up to the VA shutdown.
The next article was titled:
Editorial: VA right to keep ads on air
This article does not cite the writer and serves as a public relations type piece that supports VA’s decision to actively engage in public relations ie propaganda.
It claims that the critique of advertising expenditure during and just prior to a shutdown was unfair. It concludes by saying this:
“A VA spokeswoman defended the ads, calling them ‘in line with VA’s obligation to conduct outreach to veterans.’ And she’s right.
“Even in a shutdown, VA’s single mission — to make sure every veteran knows about, and receives, every benefit he or she deserves — should be considered essential. The ads, which VA also points out were funded from the previous fiscal year’s money, are among the most crucial ways to execute that mission. They’re running in the Washington market, VA says, because that’s home to one of the highest concentration of veterans, and it has one of the lowest rates of enrollment in the veterans health care system.
“VA deserves praise, not criticism, for its strategic decision to keep these outreach ads on air even during a shutdown. It shows that, despite myriad troubles facing the department, helping veterans rightfully remains its top priority.”
This statement and its interpretation by the mystery Military Times writer is clearly slanted in a pro-VA direction. In its totality, when taken in consideration to Maze’s article published on the same day. This suggests that VA is using Military Times for dissemination of public relations material.
Many veterans were in a shear panic just prior to the VA shutdown. They were in even greater distress during the shutdown because of threats from VA that it would shut off our veterans benefits, veterans disability and veterans pensions.
What these articles fail to highlight is VA’s failure to inform and equip veterans with the knowledge they need to make smart decisions if VA shuts off its payments.
Instead, VA claims here that it was justified. This is despite VA’s failure to plan for a shutdown while the shutdown was happening.
Here are links to the videos on YouTube I just embedded on this site: https://www.disabledveterans.org/2013/10/18/videos-youtube-clips-vas-5ml-ads/