Veterans Affairs Quickly Reverses Ban of Iconic WWII “Kiss” Photo at VA Facilities After Twitter Exposé

2024-03-06 04:00:52

Late last week the VA ordered all facilities to take down the iconic “V-J Day in Times Square” “Kiss” photo that adorned the walls of many VA facilities, a story broken by Twitter/X user @EndWokeness:

But less than two hours after @EndWokeness broke the story Tuesday morning, the VA Secretary, Denis McDonough, reversed the order:

Notice that Secretary McDonough doesn’t mention the memo. has the story: VA reverses plan to ban iconic WWII kiss photo from medical sites:

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough is overruling plans to ban the famous Times Square kiss photo marking the end of World War II from all department health care facilities, a move criticized as political correctness run amok.

The ban was announced internally at VA medical facilities late last month in a memo from RimaAnn Nelson, the Veterans Health Administration’s top operations official. Employees were instructed to “promptly” remove any depictions of the famous photo and replace it with imagery deemed more appropriate.

“The photograph, which depicts a non-consensual act, is inconsistent with the VA’s no-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment and assault,” the memo stated.

“To foster a more trauma-informed environment that promotes the psychological safety of our employees and the veterans we serve, photographs depicting the ‘V-J Day in Times Square’ should be removed from all Veterans Health Administration facilities.”

The memo garnered public scrutiny after it was posted online by the X account EndWokeness on Tuesday.

“Garnered public scrutiny” — now there’s an understatement. Take a look:

I’ve left out some posts that even offended me, and nothing offends me. Military Times continues:

Officials said the memo should not have been sent out and was formally rescinded on Tuesday. They did not provide details of whether senior leaders were consulted on the matter ahead of Nelson’s memo.

The photograph was taken by journalist Alfred Eisenstaedt in New York City on Aug. 14, 1945, as Americans celebrated Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. Other journalists, including military reporters, also captured the moment.

The shot shows a U.S. sailor grabbing and kissing a woman he did not know amid a joyous, party atmosphere in Times Square. The identities of the individuals in the photo have been disputed over the years.

In her memo, Nelson noted that use of the photo in VA facilities “was initially intended to celebrate and commemorate the end of World War II and the triumphant return of American soldiers. However, perspectives on historical events and their representations evolve.”

Nelson wrote that the non-consensual nature of the kiss and “debates on consent and the appropriateness of celebrating such images” led to the decision. Senior leaders did not provide an explanation for the reversal.

A little research has revealed that Under Secretary Nelson, whose VA bio is available here, was indeed implicated in the VA scandal where numerous vets were exposed to HIV. From a late 2016 Daily Caller article:

To turn around the most troubled Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in the nation, officials have selected a woman who left her last hospital in disgrace after it ranked dead-last in patient satisfaction among the agency’s 126 hospitals nationwide.

Rima Ann Nelson has been named the next leader of the Phoenix VA, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

In St. Louis, Nelson oversaw a hospital that potentially exposed 1,800 patients to HIV and whose operating rooms were closed twice for serious medical safety issues. Patients and employees both gave it the worst possible marks for trustworthiness. The Democratic congressman who represented the area around the facility said mediocrity “thrives” under Nelson and he was astounded that she was still employed by the VA….

Among a complex string of horrible metrics for St. Louis during Nelson’s tenure there, a 2012 review of 27 nurses’ personnel files in St. Louis found only half had required documentation of their competency. Auditors found “a lack of effective nursing leadership.” Nelson is a nurse. Employees told a local TV station that veterans were left sitting in feces for days.

“If [the St. Louis VA] were a ship or a military unit, the commander would have already been relieved,” then-Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican, wrote in 2011.

Apparently at the VA they kick you upstairs instead of firing you.

Importantly, Military Times verified that Nelson’s memo is legit, and @EndWokness isn’t shy about taking credit for the VA’s reversal:

Of course, the bigger story might be that this reversal would never have happened without Twitter/X, and Elon Musk:

As a 70% service-connected disabled veteran who has spent more than my share of time at the VA, all I can say is that this whole episode just makes me sad. There are some good people on the front lines at the VA trying to do their best, but the leadership is questionable.

Just leave WWII alone.


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Veterans Affairs Quickly Reverses Ban of Iconic WWII “Kiss” Photo at VA Facilities After Twitter Exposé


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