A new VA internal training guide used Oscar the Grouch to reference veterans. The use of the Sesame Street character, who is rarely pleasant, has angered many vets and Veterans Affairs staffers who have also served in the military.
Oscar the Grouch was reportedly used to reference veterans that were likely to attend town hall veterans information events in Philadelphia Wednesday. VFW National Spokesman Joe Davis said, “There is no time or place to make light of the current crisis that the VA is in and especially to insult the VA’s primary customer.” Davis went on to say that comparing veterans to Oscar the Grouch “slams the door” on attempts by the VA to fix its tattered relationship and tarnished level of trust with veterans.
The VA training guide featured an 18-page slide show instructing staffers on how to help veterans with their claims. The Veterans Affairs guide reportedly stated that some veterans may be “demanding” and “unrealistic.” The manual also instructed VA hospital staffers to “apologize for the perception” of the federal agency. Philadelphia VA benefits office representative Marissa Prugsawan told the media that she regretted “any misunderstanding” the slide-show guide may have caused.
The VA hospital spokeswoman had this to say about the Oscar the Grouch scandal:
“The training provided was not intended to equate veterans with this character. It was intended to remind our employees to conduct themselves as courteously and professionally as possible when dealing with veterans and their concerns.”
Many veterans consider the Oscar the Grouch excuse flimsy at best and an outright lie at worst. Prugsawan also maintained that the VA training guide “appeared” to be an old internal document that Philadelphia staffers had pulled information from ahead of the training Friday. The VA hospital staffer said she did not know if the document comparing veterans to Oscar the Grouch was created locally or stemmed from the national VAS office and distributed around the country.
President Barack Obama spoke in front of veterans earlier this week. During his speech, he stated that the treatment of veterans will change at the VA, and those who do not do their jobs well will be fired. Many veterans and military support organizations are eagerly awaiting the president’s response to the Oscar the Grouch insult to the men and women who have put their lives on the line serving America.
What do you think of the VA training guide comparing veterans to Oscar the Grouch?
[Image Via: Sheila Zeller Interiors]