The already disgraced Department of Veterans Affairs has found a way to make itself even more unpopular with Americans, and particularly with Veterans after depicting them in leaked training materials as Sesame Street’s cantankerous homeless bum Oscar The Grouch.
While the President continues to vow to reform and improve the veterans’ health care system, the VA office in Philadelphia has been forced to issue an embarrassing apology after the internal training guide, titled “What to Say to Oscar the Grouch – Dealing with Veterans During Town Hall Claims Clinics,” was obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The guide contained an 18-page slide show which compares disgruntled or disaffected Veterans to the grumpy garbage can dwelling green creature.
According to the Inquirer, one slide in the presentation features the word “CRANKY” hanging from Oscar’s garbage can, while a second shows the character alongside the phrase “100% GROUCHY, DEAL WITH IT.”
The internal guide also also advises VA staff that veterans can be demanding and unrealistic, while instructing employees to be ready to apologize regarding the public “perception” of the agency.
The guide also contains pointers on how to tell if a veteran is about to launch an “outburst,” suggesting that staff should look for behaviour that is accusatory, agitated, demanding, or unfocused.
Another section offering advice on dealing with angry veterans is titled “Don’t Get in the Swamp With the Alligator.”
The piece was prepared and presented to VA staffers this week in preparation for town-hall style meetings being held Wednesday in an effort to win back the confidence of veterans following the revelations regarding poor healthcare standards, and a cover up, that led to potentially thousands of deaths.
“There is no time or place to make light of the current crisis that the VA is in,” said Joe Davis, a national spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars organisation. “And especially to insult the VA’s primary customer.” He added that the incident effectively “slams the door” on the possibility of reconciliation between veterans groups and the agency.
The Philadelphia VA office issued an apology, but claimed that it never intended to depict veterans in a negative light.
“The training provided was not intended to equate veterans with this character,” spokeswoman Marisa Prugsawan said in a statement. “It was intended to remind our employees to conduct themselves as courteously and professionally as possible when dealing with veterans and their concerns.”
Other veterans who have seen the presentation say they feel it was designed to give the impression that they are potentially dangerous.
“For a long time, there was a stereotype of Vietnam veterans, that they’re mentally unstable and violent, bitter, angry, resentful,” said Christian DeJohn, an Army veteran who served in Bosnia. “I feel like this is perpetuating some of the worst stereotypes of veterans.”
Government agencies depicting veterans as dangerous is a long standing theme. Infowars has previously covered several leaked training manuals from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and other agencies that have equated veterans with terrorists.
Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.