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Rep., veteran Brian Mast sets record straight on VA hospital’s Trump portrait removal: Absolutely political

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A Florida congressman believes there is “absolutely a political end” to a decision by a VA hospital to remove portraits of the President and Secretary of Veterans Affairs from its walls.

“The VA does not belong to the employees. The VA belongs to the veterans,” Republican congressman and Army veteran Brian Mast said Thursday on “Fox & Friends,” pointing out that VA employee unions, including the one in his own district,  campaigned heavily against President Trump during the election campaign.

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A group of local veterans joined Mast, a double amputee who lost his legs in an IED blast in Afghanistan, to bring portraits of President Trump and Secretary David Shulkin to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center earlier this week.

Video posted on Facebook showed the mission to hang the portraits was successful, but hours later it was revealed that management at the hospital took down the pictures. According to a VA spokeswoman, the photos had not been authenticated and any portraits displayed at the VA need to come from the central office.

The video posted of the event was also denounced as “inappropriate,” citing the privacy of patients at the facility.

Mast criticized the “resistance” from the VA hospital in a tweet after the action.

“This is exactly what pisses people off about the government is they don’t have that kind of reactionary capability to just fix a problem immediately,” he told Fox News. “Here we see they made an even bigger problem out of the situation.”

He slammed the excuse by the hospital that the photos, which he said came straight from the White House website,  were not official and had to be removed.

“That is absolutely hiding behind a piece of administrative jargon just to take the pictures down,” Mast said, adding that the veterans who thought they had scored a “small win” working with the VA ended up feeling “stabbed in the back.”

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Mast concluded by challenging the administration at the hospital to re-hang the portraits, which are still in their possession.

According to a post Thursday on the Facebook page of Gruntworks, a military-gear apparel company run by Army and Marine Corps veterans, the VA got the message.


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Frieda Powers


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