The Department of Veterans Affairs boasts an Office of Public Affairs that has 54 full-time equivalent employees and a $7.7 million budget, but makes it very difficult reach any of these people by phone or email on the VA’s website.
It’s almost as if the VA doesn’t want to take calls from reporters.
Most government websites have at least one or two main numbers for reporters to call, and often include numbers and emails on press releases they put out. But the VA’s Office of Public Affairs appears to have its number listed in just one place: on their main media room page, which can only be entered by double clicking the media room tab.
A single click won’t work, and will only get you other page options that don’t list the phone number. The double click trick was discovered only after TheBlaze challenged people over Twitter to try to find the number.
But elsewhere, the number doesn’t seem to exist. The VA has a list of toll free numbers to reach the VA, but none of these are numbers for any of the VA’s 54 press people.
The main public affairs page also doesn’t include any way to get help. And somewhat unbelievably, none of the VA’s press releases include any contact information.
One number listed on several web pages is the Veterans Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255 (press 1). So conceivably, a veteran reporter could find help using that number.
Incidently, the VA’s press shop was sharply criticized last month by Rick Weidman of the Vietnam Veterans of America. In a House hearing, Weidman said that even when you can reach a VA public affairs person, they don’t do a very good job.
“They’re not in the business of communication,” Weidman said. “They’re in the business of obstructing and obfuscation, and most of those folks, need to be assisted in finding another way to contribute to the good of the world.
“And you need two or three really smart press people. Curt Cashour does a better job than all of them put together.”
Cashour is the main press person for the House Veterans Affairs Committee.