Coverage on DisabledVeterans.org of Veterans Affairs (VA) unlawful and ‘ill-advised’ ban of iPhones and other cellphones spurred outrage on Monday and forced the agency to issue an apology yesterday. The apologies were cited by The Washington Free Beacon and Fox News this morning, which stated the issue was first published on this website.
How is that for a quick turnaround?
The flyer depicted numerous items and threatened that, if brought to a VA medical appointment, the agency would cancel the appointment. The items were an iPhone, backpack, knife and a pistol. At the bottom of the flyer it showed the VA logo and slogan, “Defining Excellence in the 21st Century.”
The flyers first surfaced on the Facebook group VA is Lying, and spurred a great deal of debate over the weekend.
A VA official informed the press yesterday that the flyers were ‘ill-advised’ and that the practice would stop:
“The flyer included in Veterans’ Compensation and Pension (C&P) appointment letters at the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System’s (ECHCS) Golden community based outpatient clinic were ill-advised.”
The VA official went on to explain the steps VA would take to ensure no other VA employees would violate the due process rights of veterans by canceling such guaranteed appointments:
“All C&P program managers across the system have been informed that the distribution of these, or similar, flyers should be immediately discontinued,” the official said. “The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) goal is to provide veterans with the care and the opportunities for health that they have earned through their service and sacrifices.”
Who here thinks Bob McDonald should have been front and center apologizing for veterans upset by this unlawful and dimwitted scheme?
The Free Beacon included an extensive quote from me as to why the flyer was unlawful and a slap in the face for Americans:
The flyers had originally caught some vets off guard and prompted Disabled Veterans’ Benjamin Krause to criticize the VA.
“The decision is a violation of due process and numerous laws protecting the rights of disabled Americans,” Krause wrote.
“The key here seems to be that VA forgets that veterans are also Americans who are protected by the Constitution and who also possess unalienable rights,” he adds. “Did we sign our rights away forever by fighting our country’s battles?”
Moreover, Krause wrote, “the leaflet does not explain what to do if the veteran is prescribed use of an iPhone or backpack as an accommodative device that helps the disabled veteran with a disability.”
The day I published that story, VA also processed the FOIA request I sent in seeking any and all information related to the publication of the flyer including legal interpretations from the Office of General Counsel indicating the flyers were lawful. I assume the few VA locations guilty of the act failed to check in with their legal counsel prior to publishing the flyers.
So despite the few VA trolls who posted comments on my original article claiming the story was a falsification or much-ado-about-nothing… Well, I guess those trolls have egg on their face.
As for me, we just sent off a letter to the Senate address problems just like this one where VA officials are sending misleading and unlawful information to veterans on whim with no accountability. However, we veterans now have the ear of the press including this website.
Let’s dig in and get to work.