Woke VA Official Faces Backlash Over Iconic WWII Kissing Image Removal

RimaAnn Nelson, an official in the Veterans Department, is currently facing significant backlash due to a contentious memo she recently distributed. This document pushed for the removal of the iconic image of a sailor smooching a woman in Times Square during the V-J Day celebrations in 1945. It has been displayed across various Veterans Affairs (VA) medical establishments. However, Nelson suggested that it was unfitting for such premises, given the organization’s high intolerance towards misconducts of sexual nature.

This recent issue isn’t the first time that Nelson, the Assistant Undersecretary for Health Operations, has found herself amidst controversy. Her career in the VA appears to have been riddled with several instances of controversy that not only have raised eyebrows, but have also prompted demands for her dismissal.

In 2016, Nelson was appointed as the director of the Phoenix VA. This decision was met by strong opposition from leading politicians, including Kyrsten Sinema, who was serving as a Democratic Representative at the time and has since become a senator, as well as then-Republican Rep. Matt Salmon. Both figures expressed their discontent with then-President Obama’s decision, urging him to reconsider Nelson’s appointment.

Their discontent stemmed from a disturbing series of events that unfolded during Nelson’s earlier tenure at the St. Louis VA hospital, where she served as the director from 2009 to 2013. During those years, numerous veterans were reportedly put at risk, with exposures to dangerous infections such as HIV and hepatitis.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Veterans Affairs secretary has reversed a department memo that aimed to ban VA displays of the iconic “V-J Day in Times Square” photograph of a Navy sailor kissing a strange woman on the streets of New York at the end of World War II.

This photo is being… pic.twitter.com/pZiYyTIPP7

— 2024 John Flynn US Senate Candidate For CT (@Flynn2022) March 7, 2024

An investigative report from CNN highlighted a truly alarming fact: that the staff at St. Louis hadn’t been trained to properly sterilize medical equipment. A whistleblower suggested that this glaring lapse in safety measures was a contributing factor to the spread of infections among patients at the St. Louis VA hospital.

A follow-up investigation conducted by AZ Central revealed that the troubling sanitation issues that originally plagued the St. Louis VA hospital were never fully addressed. This location’s management, under Nelson’s direction, maintained conditions that were worryingly below par.

The Daily Caller expanded upon this reality by stating that conditions were in fact so shocking, patients, many of them veterans, were left in unclean conditions for a painful amount of time. This was startling evidence of systemic mismanagement.

Despite these well-documented failures, it is reported that Nelson received more than $25,000 in bonus payments during her tenure. Her stint at the St. Louis VA only came to an end when she elected to transfer to a post in the Philippines, a country notorious for cost-effectiveness.

However, her time leading the Phoenix VA was not smooth-sailing either. Her stint was marked by another round of controversy when the Phoenix VA facility was identified as one of the poorest performing in the nation in 2017, as reported by Fox News.

The contention escalated when a memo that Nelson sent was mistakenly released. The memo requested the removal of the previously discussed, iconic photo from Veteran Affairs facilities. This misstep attracted the attention of VA Secretary Denis McDonough, who promptly overturned Nelson’s memo.

In a fierce rebuttal, McDonough declared unequivocally that the iconic image was not and would not be banned from VA establishments. Still, the damage was done, prompting two leading Republicans, Senator Steve Daines of Montana and Representative Ryan Zinke, to draft a formal communication to McDonough, demanding Nelson’s dismissal.

The contention surrounding the memo created a context of ill-timed and misplaced priorities at a juncture when the VA is grappling with issues such as staff recruitment and retention, hiring freezes, and budgetary constraints. These factors contribute to the concern the lawmakers express in their letter about the organization’s structure and core leadership’s qualifications.

Secretary McDonough responded to this letter by enunciating that ‘Nelson has dedicated her entire career to serving Veterans. We are fortunate to have her at VA, and she will remain at VA.’ This affirmation of Nelson’s position appears to have been made against the backdrop of increasing public concern about her professional capabilities.

A spokesperson for the VA reiterated that Nelson continues to serve in her role as the Assistant Under Secretary for Health Operations at a time when the department serves as a vital healthcare provider for several veterans. According to recent statistics, almost 70% of VA hospitals are outperforming facilities outside the VA network.

Despite the controversies, the VA seems focused on continuing its mission, even as questions linger about management and leadership within its ranks. This case serves as an illustration of the ongoing balancing act between accountability and the delivery of essential services to our veterans.

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Woke VA Official Faces Backlash Over Iconic WWII Kissing Image Removal appeared first on Real News Now.

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