VA's 'Patton' parody finds defenders


The Veterans Affairs Department’s training film might not be an unreasonable thing to spend a few thousand dollars on, said several FCW readers commenting on a recent article.

VA is under investigation for two training conferences held in Florida in 2011, but the video – one of the items cited by members of Congress as an example of waste – quickly found some defenders.

“The artificial furor over this conference video gives us even more evidence (as if we needed it), that any investigation can go too far," wrote Richard Warren at the Environmental Protection Agency. “This video sets a professional tone and is presented in a manner that is both efficient and memorable. The quality of the videography, lighting, sound and editing were professional throughout and the cost was far from unreasonable for the likely effects it caused, as part of a much larger investment in time -- all of which appears to have been very mission-focused.”

VA reportedly spent about $52,000 to make the video, which featured an actor parodying a scene from the movie “Patton” intercut with other material. Reps. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Bob Filner (D-Calif.) – the chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Veterans Affairs – led the charge to criticize it.

“I think the congressman is looking for something to outraged about,” wrote Al Saxon, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Vision Technologies. “The video was targeted at VA personnel, and having watched it, was an effective tool used to build morale and focus attention on their mission. I think Reps. Miller and Filner need to focus on the important tasks, not find petty excuses to get their names in the press.”

And an anonymous commenter had a recommendation: “Perhaps Congress should put into law that all federal training materials not contain any creative, engaging, inspiring or otherwise interesting content.”

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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Reader comments

Fri, Aug 24, 2012

When I saw the article yesterday, I didn't understand the furor over the $52K spent on the film, when the real issue seemed to be the $millions being spent on extravagant conferences.

Fri, Aug 24, 2012

In response to Ms. Frasier: The VA has over 200,000 people working for them. Let's assume after the cost of materials, time, and man hours that this paper memo distributed to each worker to sign cost 25 cents a sheet (This would be cheap considering my company pays nearly 75 cents for marketing flyers). 200,000 x $.25 = $50,000 with no lasting impact beyond a huge stack of paper to be scanned & recycled (at an additional cost). Let's focus on REAL issues such as how much money did congress waste on this investigation which no one will care about next week when the next hot topic comes along?

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 OldCIO DC

We really do not have the money to keep dismissing these things as fine for political reasons. Everytime one comes up, a political party tries to demonize anyone speaking against the waste when we know it is happening thousands of times each day in government. Until we get some honor and integrity back in our leadership, we will continue to decline.

Thu, Aug 23, 2012

This just in: Unnamed sources have confirmed Sean Hannity has been hired by the House of Representatives as a high level consultant "to assure that outrage is effectively managed and appropriately distributed to the press." The hire quells concern by some Members that their outrage has not gotten the attention it deserves because "other yahoos are stepping on my air time."

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 Sue Frasier Albany NY

Of course, the obvious question here that any layperson would ask, let alone use veterans who are trapped in poverty while the VA disability claims system spins it's wheels on nonsense IS: "Why does the agency have to take on such over the top production style materials just to make a point, that management of days gone by, could accomplish by simply circulating a directive memo and making everyone initial it??" The VA has lost it's way in first hiring the most UNQUALIFIED people for the jobs they sit in, and then turning around and taking on the funding and budget size of an all out university system to "TRAIN" this ship of fools into a working system. The premise itself is Dumb, and all they really need to do to cut costs here is to raise the hiring and qualifications standards of personnel and leave the university-level burden of in house "training" to the colleges where it belongs. ---- Sue Frasier, Army 1970, national veterans activist.

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