So much for things improving at the Veterans' Administration
Veterans who died homeless, wronged by the V.A. or "on a waiting list," must be turning in their graves at the thought that those who failed them are receiving congratulations on their "achievements." If you happen to grieve for such veterans, the handshake between the V.A.'s past and present will make your blood boil.
While the V.A., VSOs, and the American Legion are discreet about the event, ex-V.A. secretary McDonald brags about the unveiling of his portrait to anybody who will listen. In his blog post from October 25, 2019, McDonald spares no detail of the ceremony in his honor and rejoices over V.A. secretary Willkie's "complimentary" and "generous" comments. And voilà, Mr. Willkie: Donald Trump's "you are fired!" suddenly has less meaning.
McDonald, who undoubtedly fancies himself as a connoisseur of art (during his reign, the V.A. blew millions on artwork), thanked the artist, Laurel Stern Boeck, but forgot to mention that she had already immortalized him as a CEO of Procter & Gamble.
Suitably named, the EGO (Eliminating Government-Funded Oil-Painting) Act, long promoted by U.S. senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), was signed into law by President Trump in March 2018. Let's hope taxpayers won't have to pick up the tab for the VA's crafty antics this time.
After his theatrical tenure in the V.A., Robert McDonald should still be experiencing aphonia (from countless speeches) and tendonitis (from ribbon cutting), but it seems he hasn't lost his appetite for compliments. Between chairing Rally Point Networks and sitting for his portrait, he managed to squeeze a gig on Ukrainian TV. In the country's capital, Kyiv, McDonald acted every inch the V.A. secretary — from touring hospitals to meeting local ministers. The ex-secretary, who describes himself as a Republican, must feel nostalgic about his days as the V.A.'s leader. Why else would he display his picture with Obama and Biden on the first page of his blog?
During the "unveiling of the portrait" ceremony, the presence of Sloan Gibson and Eric Shinseki also brought memories about past administrations, and about VA scandals.
Before heading for a reception hosted by the VSOs in the American Legion Headquarters, McDonald likened himself to Private Ryan (from Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan) and explained projection of a collage: "My point in using it was that in my portrait I see the picture of every VA employee working hard to achieve the VA vision of being the top customer service organization in the Federal government."
Ex-secretary McDonald and the V.A.'s "big happy family" celebrating his big day seem perfectly unaware, or careless, of existence of yet another "collage": the one made of memories about our loved ones, the veterans who died abandoned and betrayed by the V.A.