May 24, 2013
Chelsea Bland
[email protected]
(202) 639-4119

VA Workers Union Questions Agency's Use of VA Healthcare Dollars on TV Ads in Wake of Pittsburgh Legionella Outbreak

(WASHINGTON) The American Federation of Government Employees has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding the use of agency resources to air television advertisements in Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 4; which has been embattled in controversy surrounding a recent Legionnaires outbreak. 

"Our union activists in the Pittsburgh area alerted us to TV ads theyve seen featuring VISN 4 Director Michael Moreland at a facility that was discovered to have legionella," said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. "We are astounded that Mr. Moreland continues to be the face of the VA in this region, despite serious concerns around his handling of the Legionnaires outbreak and the excessive bonuses he received while the outbreak occurred."

The unions FOIA request asks the VA to provide information on the total cost of the ads, documentation on the need of such advertising and what outcome the agency is seeking as a result of the project. AFGE has been critical of the leadership of Mr. Moreland and has repeatedly called for his resignation. 

"It seems to be one scandal after another when it comes to Mr. Moreland," said AFGE District 3 National Vice President Keith Hill. "What does it say to the families of the victims who died after contracting Legionnaires disease at a VA facility, that the man who oversees that facility is starring in TV ads promoting the VA? Its an outrage."

"Our veterans depend on us to provide the best care possible in return for their service to our nation," said AFGE National VA Council President Alma Lee. "When the VA diverts precious healthcare dollars away from patient care for TV ads that feature controversial agency officials, it calls into question the agencys commitment to our nations heroes while forcing doctors, nurses and hospital staff to do more with less."

AFGE has requested that the VA respond to its FOIA request by June 19, 2013.

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