After it was revealed the VA spent some $20 million on lavish art at facilities around the country, a watchdog group is calling on the Veterans Affairs Administration to showcase and support American Veterans Artwork. A report was released on spending at the VA — showing the administration purchased millions in luxury art at the height of the veterans healthcare scandal during which thousands of veterans died while waiting to see doctors.
The $19.7 million tab included a $700,000 sculpture to adorn a California facility for blind veterans. The VA also spent $21,000 for a 27-foot fake Christmas tree; $32,000 for 62 “local image” pictures for the San Francisco VA; and $115,600 for “art consultants” for the Palo Alto facility.
The watchdog group, as well as several U.S. lawmakers, are now calling on the VA to feature the work of their own. “American veterans should benefit from art displays, not vendors who sell the VA pricey art,” said Adam Andrzejewski, founder and CEO at OpenTheBooks.com.
“Veterans have their own art museum. Why is the VA spending millions on lavish art when American veterans are already producing great art?”asked Andrzejewski.
A social media campaign was started on Twitter with the hashtag #vetsart4va. Veterans can upload their art with this hashtag to showcase their work to the VA.
Such art can be found by members of the group, Veteran Artists Program, or VAP, a New York City-based nonprofit that takes artists who are also veterans and propels their works and careers into the mainstream creative arts community. VAP covers the performing arts and fine arts — showcasing many talented painters, sculptors and photographers whose work portrays the struggles and triumphs of America’s brave.
Shawn Ganther, an Air Force Veteran who served with U.S. security forces in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, said, “I want Americans to see soldiers as the heroes who fight and die in the name of freedom — and to stop and reflect on the privileges they sometimes take for granted.”
Veteran Artists Program has previously displayed artwork by veterans at the Pentagon and U.S. Senate office buildings. BR McDonald, founder and president of VAP, said his organization is currently working with at least 10 VA hospitals around the country to feature work by veteran artists.
McDonald said spending such money on veteran artists gives them a “voice to tell their story” and helps them transition into civilian life. We hsoudl be ebbcouraging the support and use of American Veterans Artwork.
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