• Meet The Man Behind New Billboard Shaming Veterans Affairs

    “VA is Lying, Veterans Are Dying,” a new billboard installed by a national group of veterans near a Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Tampa states.

    The group, called “VA is Lying,” is operated by Ron Nesler, a Vietnam War veteran. It is nearly 10,000 members strong across the United States. The goal is to “make VA a hostile environment for liars,” according to a pinned post in the Facebook group.

    Nesler says the initial motivation to create the organization came from the long-lasting effects of Agent Orange on veterans and their families.

    In Nesler’s case, this means his step-daughter, as her biological father was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. As a result, his step-daughter suffered from serious birth defects.

    Federal law states that the VA is supposed to provide benefits, but Nesler believes that the department has fallen short of fulfilling its duty.

    “We say VA is Lying and veterans are dying because that is exactly what is happening,” Nesler told The Tampa Tribune. “Look at the VA backlog, VA claims they are fixing the backlog, but veterans know better. VA’s way to fix the back log is to move claims into the black hole of the appeals process, so VA looks a little better on paper, but the same vets are still waiting, just in a different line. And these vets are dying while they wait, and VA is lying.”

    Although hailing from Indiana, the reason Nesler chose Tamper was because the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital is a major source of complaints from patients.

    One Army veteran, Sally Mulcare, is so fed up with treatment for an injury she sustained in the 1990s that she protested outside the hospital Sunday.

    The billboard only costs $1,000 a month to maintain, and Nesler intends to keep it running as long as he possibly can. He’s already raised $19,000 through gofundme. The goal is $100,000. He hopes the billboards will prompt people to contact their representatives in Congress in order to push for change.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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