PHOENIX — A controversial billboard near the Phoenix Department of Veterans Affairs is turning heads and raising eyebrows.
The bright yellow sign is located on the corner of 7th Street and Indian School Road, right next to the Carl T Hayden Medical Center. The medical center is considered ground zero of the VA healthcare scandal over botched wait times, phony waiting lists and inadequate healthcare.
The billboard reads “VA is Lying! Veterans are Dying!” and advertises a link to the VA is Lying Facebook group right below it.
Dozens of similar billboards have been strategically placed near VA healthcare centers around the nation.
Ron Nesler, founder of the VA is Lying organization, said the billboards serve an important purpose: To create discussion and change for veterans within the community.
“The point of these billboards is to embarrass the VA and embarrass the Congress and force them to do something right for the veterans,” he said.
VA is Lying receives donations online to purchase the billboards. Nesler, a Vietnam army veteran, said the signs are well-liked within the veteran community but admitted there are some who dislike the billboards.
“The people at the VA don’t like us and I get lots of negative comments from the VA,” he said. “I’ve been accused of being ungrateful at the VA.”
Brandon Coleman is a former VA employee who was placed on administrative leave after blowing the whistle on the mismanagement of suicidal patients at the Phoenix VA back in January.
Coleman, who is now working with Nesler and his organization, said he is proud of the billboard and hopes it makes an impact on the public.
“It lets you know that the problem is deep, the cancer runs deep at the Phoenix VA and that this is a grass roots movement,” he said.
The marine veteran said he and others in the VA is Lying organization will continue to push for VA healthcare reform. Until that happens, Coleman said it is likely that more billboards will go up.
“So that these corrupt administrators would have to see it every day on their way into work,” he said. “It lets them know that we are watching them and we’re not going anywhere until these problems are fixed.”
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