In an unusual move, VA quickly changed protocol following outcry over removal of President Donald Trump’s portrait from a Florida VA on Tuesday.
For the past 50 days, VA facilities nationwide have failed to replace the photos of President Obama and Secretary McDonald with photos of President Trump and Secretary Shulkin, MD. Normally, the photos are replaced within the first month after inauguration.
The photos are supposedly delayed from GSA and have yet to be supplied to VA.
Taking matters into their own hands, disabled veterans placed portraits of President Trump and Secretary Shulkin into the placeholders left vacant since January. Congressman Brian Mast (R-Fl), a combat veteran and double amputee, spearheaded the operation.
Some hours later, VA staff removed the photos. One VA spokeswoman called the actions of the Congressman “inappropriate,” as if Rep. Mast was a small child. The spokeswoman cited protocol as the reason for removing the interim portraits intended to honor the President and VA Secretary.
Initially, it was believed the local facility removed the portraits, but I just received word the call for removal actually came from someone within VA Central Office.
Who do you think mandated removal of the portrait installed by the Congressman?
Thankfully, outcry from the public raised awareness about the matter resulting in VA blowing off the protocol to only hang an official portrait given the tardy presentation of the images.
Instead, VA mandated immediate printing and hanging of interim portraits until the formal portraits are made available to VA by GSA.
Whether you like President Trump or not, he is the President, and his image needs to be displayed promptly.
About President Trump Portrait Replacement
According to the VA.gov VAntage Point blog:
In the last few weeks, and especially in the last few days, there have been a number of inquiries from the public, media and members of Congress in regards to the lack of photos of the president and Secretary Shulkin in VA facilities. Though these facilities abide by the General Services Administration protocol and have been anxiously awaiting an official photo of the president to arrive, today, Secretary Shulkin issued guidance to break from protocol.
By direction of the secretary, VA facilities have been instructed to temporarily display an image from the White House’s website until an official portrait of President Trump is released.
All VA facilities have been directed to download and print photos of both the president and Secretary Shulkin, and every facility is expected to have them appropriately displayed immediately. The president’s photo, while not his official portrait, is currently used by the White House on its website and social media platforms. Once VA receives the official photo of President Trump, facilities will replace the temporary version.
Though VA facilities have been following the correct federal protocol for official portraits, we realize that it is more important to display these temporary photos to demonstrate a clear chain of command and respect for our leadership and our Veterans.
What would be great is to see President Trump coordinate massive deviations from flawed VA protocol related to how it processes appeals, too. Maybe this is a first step to using common sense solutions.
What do you think?