Veterans Affairs Spending Millions on Artwork as Vets Suffer

It seems as if the VA cannot catch a break, and from this author’s perspective, maybe the VA does not deserve to catch said break. Several reports have come out during the last couple of weeks with news that the VA has been spending huge amounts of money on artwork to adorn their various facilities, while sick and injured vets endure long wait times for treatment, abysmal patient care from some (not all, but some) VA personnel, and Congressional oversight committees that like to grandstand on C-SPAN TV more than they want to get real results while vets suffer and some even die awaiting care.

Most Americans were appalled when they learned that an estimated 1,000 vets died while awaiting VA care. This came to be known as the VA scandal of 2012-2015, during which we learned that in 7 states VA clinics falsified the appointment books, then many suicide hotlines were being answered by voicemail messages, and thousands of patients were routinely given the run-around by untrained and uncaring staff. Many promises were made to vets that corrective actions would be taken, yet there are still about 500,000 vets on waiting lists to be seen. But fear not, the VA has been busy taking care of other business.

Over the past 11 years, the VA has spent almost $20 million on various pieces of artwork; $16 million of that amount was spent during the Obama years. In fact, under the Obama administration, artwork spending increased substantially – going from $1.5 million during the time period of 2004-07 up to more than $16 million for the time period of 2008-14. And that does not count the more than $2 million that was labeled as “special projects” during the 2008-14 time period.

VA ArtworkAccording to a report released through Forbes, between 2012 and 2015 the VA took on more than 39,400 new hires, but less than 3,600 of those hires were doctors. Why is this important? Because one of the main reasons for excessive wait times for vets is a lack of doctors who can see and treat patients.

Some of the Other Insane Spending by the VA Included:

  • $100,000 for five glass panels that depict the military services in a VA outpatient center in Anchorage.
  • $21,000 for an artificial Christmas tree.
  • The VA Palo Alto Healthcare Systems loves their art, spending $330,775 in 2014 for Gradient Arch display, followed by the Harbor display costing $220,000. But wait, there’s more! They also spent $482,960 for a courtyard rock sculpture and paid an additional $115,600 for an art consultant’s facility.
  • In a separate instance, the brand new Palo Alto Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center, which serves blind vets, spent $670,000 for two sculptures that none of their blind veterans will see.
  • The San Francisco VA facility is no better. They paid $32,000 for a set of 62 pictures depicting the local area. That was followed by buying artwork for an interior wall costing $65,000, and then more artwork for their canteen that cost about $30,000.
  • $610,000 was spent on artwork between 2009 and 2014 for the VA healthcare facility in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • And the list goes on and on and on. Even the Biloxi, MS facilities spent more than $168,000 on art while being named one of the “most troubled” VA facilities.

As public awareness of these transactions is coming out, and public outrage is following, the VA says that they will make changes to how they purchase artwork in the future. We will see.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical

Robert Partain

Robert Partain has been a professional writer for over 25 years. He spent ten years on active duty in the Army working as a medic and training NCO. While he covers any topic associated with military life, he specializes in writing about legislation that can affect active duty service members and veterans. Robert currently lives in the small town of Arab, Alabama.
Robert Partain

3 thoughts on “Veterans Affairs Spending Millions on Artwork as Vets Suffer

  1. Money that could have been spent diagnosing or saving how many vets? And how about finding the artists among our vets and paying them for artwork that we would appreciate so much more!

  2. All artwork in federal and VA facilities should have to be ‘donated,’ or done by the artist ‘pro bono publico.’ That would end a small part of the ‘shill’ game.

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