In every Veterans Affairs hospital in the country, there is supposed to be a portrait of the current U.S. president and VA secretary. That wasn’t the case in a VA facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida—until a dedicated veteran fought back.
The Florida hospital, whose sole mission is to serve injured and sick veterans, refused to hang a picture of President Donald Trump and VA Sec. David Shulkin. Instead, the hospital had an empty picture frame hanging beside a portrait of a former Obama-era VA secretary. Sitting in front of the empty frame where the president’s portrait would ordinarily hang was a large plant.
After witnessing this “very disrespectful” scene, Vietnam War veteran Joe Carollo demanded the facility’s receptionist hang the proper photos. The receptionist’s response is both incredible and outrageous.
“Well, I walked in, it wasn’t right,” Carollo said to Fox and Friends on Sunday. “It was very disrespectful. I couldn’t believe my eyes, that there was no picture there, and there was a plant right in front of it. It kind of bothered me a little bit.”
“So, what did you do?” asked “Fox and Friends” host Abby Huntsman.
“What did I do? I went up to the receptionist there and I spoke to the receptionist, and she told me it was out of her control. She would have to go get a hold of somebody in Palm Beach, that they had all the control of that.”
Carollo didn’t take no for an answer, and just hours after Carollo fought to have the pictures hung, the VA hospital replaced the empty frame and old photo with the proper images of Trump and Shulkin.
When Carollo was asked why the receptionist reacted the way she did to the initial request, Carollo replied, “I spoke to some employees over there, and they are afraid to talk because they don’t want to get fired. Who knows? Who knows why they’re going to get fired?”
Carollo also told “Fox and Friends” several other people have reached out to Carollo with images showing additional VA hospitals without the correct portraits.
Carollo’s run-in with the Port St. Lucie VA hospital comes just two weeks after U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) brought updated portraits to the VA hospital in West Palm Beach and demanded they be hung after officials there refused requests from veterans. Mast is a disabled veteran who lost both his legs and a finger while serving in Afghanistan.
There are about 18.8 million veterans in the United States and 144 VA hospitals. The Department of Veterans Affairs also manages 300 Vet Centers. About 5.9 million veterans were served by the VA in 2015, according to a report by CNN.