Some veterans decided to hang a photo of President Donald Trump at a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital, only to have it taken down by the hospital.
Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) – a veteran who lost his legs in combat – was alerted by the nonprofit organization Veterans of South Florida that the local VA hospital didn't have a picture of Trump or VA Secretary David Shulkin; usually VA hospitals have photos of the president and VA secretary hanging on their walls. Mast then brought photos of Trump and Shulkin into the hospital on Tuesday and hung them up while surrounded by other veterans.
Hours later, the photos were removed.
The VA issued the following statement as to why the photos were taken down:
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), like all other federal agencies, relies on the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) to provide us official photos of the President to display in our facilities. The GPO will print the portraits upon receipt of the file from the White House and then distribute accordingly. Once VA receives the official photo of the President, we will ensure both the photo of the President and the photo of Secretary Shulkin are displayed appropriately. There are several other VA centers across the country that also haven't received their photos as well.
Veterans weren't buying the VA's excuse.
"If the answer was, 'That's not the official photo' ... have the administrator come down and say, 'I'm sorry, this is our policy,'" Beau Brumfield told a local ABC affiliate. "Why put it up to appease people right then and then like a thief in the night come downstairs when no ones looking and take it down?"
In fact, Mast and the veterans were aided by a VA staff member in putting up the photos, an odd move if it was truly against VA policy.
Mast issued a statement that read, "Especially after so many veterans contacted me about this issue, it is disappointing to see resistance from the VA over hanging the portrait of both the Commander in Chief as well as the Secretary of the VA."
The Florida congressman also said on Thursday's Fox and Friends that there was "a political end" to the hospital taking down the photos.
"Why put it up to appease people right then and then like a thief in the night come downstairs when no ones looking and take it down?"
"There are VA unions that campaigned heavily against President Trump," Mast said. "The VA union in my own VA hospital that we're talking about right now, you can go on their Facebook page; see the things they put up against President Trump, absolutely this plays a role in it.
"The reality is that the VA does not belong to the employees. The VA belongs to the veterans."