We have been out of session for a few months however a lot has happened this past week that I felt compelled to provide an update on. On Wednesday, July 21, I received an email from someone who was concerned about an issue at the VA Hospital in Des Moines. They had attached a picture of the flag pole at the back entrance of the hospital and a flag, however NOT the American flag, was flying.
This bothered me greatly. I was astonished that of all places, the Veterans Administration Hospital in Des Moines was disrespecting our Veterans in this manner. I did a little investigating and found out it had been this way for the entire month of June, INCLUDING on Flag Day! These decisions by the Administration at the VA did not sit well with me. As many of you might recall, my campaign slogan has always been “Protecting what common sense looks like!” As I thought about it that evening, reinstalling the American Flag at its place at the top of that flag pole was about the closest thing to “protecting what common sense looks like” that I could think of. So that next morning, I drove up to Des Moines and reinstalled Old Glory in her correct place.
Now I did not take the “other” flag down because if I did, I probably would have been charged with theft and destruction of government property. However, that was not the reason I let the other flag fly. I knew that if I removed the “other” flag, THAT would have become the issue from a media standpoint. I knew if I took the “other” flag down, the VA Administrators and the small group of people who were ok with taking the American flag down and replacing it with this “other” flag would have quickly spun the issue AWAY from what this was really about. The American Flag is the most inclusive flag in the world. It symbolizes a country that does not discriminate. A country that treats all the same regardless of their sex, party, race, or religion. The American Flag is known around the world as a symbol of freedom!
As I was doing this, a groundskeeper came out and asked me what I was doing and I simply said, “the right thing.” He asked if I had gotten permission from the VA administration to do this and I told him, “The only permission I needed to put the American flag up is from the men and women who come in this VA hospital every day for their treatments, and I am pretty darn sure they would be just fine with what I am doing!”
Friday morning I drove back to the VA and could not believe my eyes, the VA Administration had again taken DOWN the American flag AGAIN and just left this “other” flag flying! So this time I put up a BIGGER American flag! Again, I left the “other” flag up. However, I am sure all of you would agree, flying anything at the top of a flag pole at our VA hospitals other than an American flag is simply pathetic!
As I was again doing this, two vets came out. One clapped and one teared up. He said “Thank you. You have no idea how demoralizing it was for me this morning was to walk into the VA for my treatments and to see some other flag flying and NOT the American flag!”
I drove back to Des Moines on Sunday and again on Wednesday and was proud to see that our American flag was still flying and I will continue to do so until there are no more worries that OUR American flag will be taken down.
The VA does have the American flag flying on a flag pole on the other side of the building by the front entrance. However the rear entrance is the main entrance most Veterans use as they enter the facility to receive their treatments. These men and women deserve to be welcomed into this facility by the American flag that they fought for! The VA claims that they are not out of compliance with flag etiquette however that is not the point. There is NO common sense based argument that the VA or anyone else can make for what they have chosen to do. To not fly the American flag at the top of both poles on that property is inexcusable! Some claim the VA was ordered by Washington to do this, however I obtained the memo from Dennis McDonough who is the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. In this memo, he “encouraged” the VA hospitals to fly this “other” flag, however nowhere did the memo say that the American flag needed to be removed!
For years we have heard about the dismal approval rating that the VA Hospitals have, well this logic is a HUGE reason why! In a recent PEW survey, the US Postal Service, the CDC (THE CDC of all things with how they handled COVID), the Federal Reserve (think about how they have handled our inflation issue), and the IRS, ALL have a higher favorability rating than Veterans Affairs! And the VA administrators don’t understand why…. Gesh!
I share this with you ahead of the Fourth of July holiday as a thank you to all of the men and women who have so bravely served our country over the years. While we celebrate our country’s independence, we all need to be more appreciative of all of the GREAT things in our lives because of these men and women!
Thank you and happy birthday America!