A Veterans Affairs hospital in West Palm beach has refused to put up pictures of President Donald Trump and Secretary David Schulkin, even though they were delivered by a congressman who lost both legs on a deployment to Afghanistan.
Republican Congressman Brian Mast showed up Tuesday with fellow veterans in tow at West Palm beach’s VA hospital. The group of constituents have been seething at the facility’s decision not to hang a portrait of the 45th commander in chief in its entrance.
Despite Mr. Mast’s personal intervention, the hospital took down the photographs shortly after he left.
“Proud of the fact that the local vet community got it done. We walked in there, we made it happen,” veteran Beau Brumfield told a local CBS affiliate, unaware that Mr. Mast’s actions would be negated moments later. “It was non-confrontational. It was nonpolitical. We just wanted to see it happen.”
“Two blank holes, it’s been 60 something days now,” added veteran John Rourke. “The veterans administration has been asked about it a few times, the local VA hospital has and they haven’t had any real reason other than they didn’t have the picture, which is readily available.”
A VA spokeswoman called the congressman’s actions “inappropriate” and said only images sent from the central office would be displayed.
Mr. Mast, who spent 12 years in the U.S. Army as a bomb disposal expert, told Fox News on Wednesday that prior to his arrival the hospital told him to “leave the portraits at the front desk instead of hanging them.”
“I insisted that I would like to see them hung,” Mr. Mast said. “The information desk called for a maintenance person who was seen helping me hang it. … I left and the leadership had the portraits removed.”
Richard Painter, chief White House ethics counsel to former President George W. Bush, told Fox that recalcitrant employees need to be held accountable for their actions.
“When you have civil servants pushing back by not putting up photos of the President, that is a terrible mistake and it should be repudiated,” Mr. Painter said. “They don’t have to like, or agree, with the president, but they need to do their job, and if people are going to have a problem looking at a portrait of the president of the United States, they’ll have to resign.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs issued a statement on Thursday saying that while it waits for the U.S. Government Publishing Office to send out pictures of the president for distribution, facilities may print high-resolution photos from the White House website in the the interim period.
VA hospitals may also print out high-resolution images of Secretary Shulkin from the VA’s official website.
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