Outrageous! Watch VA employees spend work day playing human ‘Hungry Hungry Hippos’ on taxpayer dime

By Jonah BennettDC NEWS

A leaked video shows staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Tomah playing a human version of the ‘Hungry, Hungry Hippo’s game for Halloween during work hours.

The day of carnival games took place Oct. 30, according to the blog Disabled Veterans. The video shows employees scrambling in a bizarre frenzy to collect as many balls from the center of the gym as possible, in effect making a human version out of the game produced by Hasbro.

In order to collect the balls, these employees, the hippos, have their legs held up by other employees in wheelbarrow-fashion. Because holding up hippos’ legs appears to be an exhausting endeavor, the employees on the ground were also supported by skateboard-like contraptions with wheels.

Shrieks of delight can be heard throughout the gym. Most of the employees participating seem to be middle-aged women.

Ethics Officer Leah Finch organized the carnival games, which took place from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the facility’s gym, followed by a costume judging contest at 2 p.m.

Finch started working as an ethics officer at the facility in 2007, continuing through to the present time, meaning she was around during repeated scandals, in which the facility received the informal name “Candy Land” and Dr. David Houlihan, a psychiatrist, received the title “Candy Man” for handing out incredible amounts of opioids to veterans. A report in March found that veterans were 2.5 times more likely to receive high doses of narcotics than the average across other facilities. Patients were also twice as likely to receive the narcotics in a dangerous cocktail mixture.

Little attention paid to interaction effects between prescribed drugs led to the death of Marine Corps veterans Jason Simcakoski. In August, the inspector general published an investigation, which concluded that Simcakoski died in 2014 from entirely preventable causes.

Houlihan was recently fired after being placed on leave since January. The firing takes effect on Nov. 9.

This makes Houlihan the second official to be fired from the facility. Back in September, facility director Mario DeSanctis was fired.

Tomah VA public affairs did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation on whether carnival games are the best use of facility resources.


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