Tag Archive for: RimaAnn Nelson

Biden VA Confirms Authenticity Of Memo To Ban Iconic WWII Photo From Facilities

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) secretary shot down a memo ordering all representations of an iconic World War II photo removed from its facilities in a statement Tuesday.

RimaAnn Nelson, who serves as the assistant undersecretary for health for operations at the Veterans’ Health Network, a VA sub-agency, directed regional officials to remove the photo from all health facilities “to foster a more trauma-informed environment,” according to a memo dated Feb. 29, 2024 that was shared on social media by the account End Wokeness. After the memo began picking up steam, VA Secretary Denis McDonough confirmed the photo, which depicts a U.S. Navy sailor kissing a woman in Times Square after the announcement of Japan’s surrender to the U.S. ending WWII, would remain on display in VA facilities.

“Let me be clear: This image is not banned from VA facilities – and we will keep it in VA facilities,” McDonough said in a social media statement. “A memo was sent out that should not have been, and it has been rescinded,” a VA official told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

A screenshot obtained by the DCNF appears to show an email sent out by the Office of the Assistant Under Secretary of Health for Operations’ communications team to an listserv of Veterans Integrated Services Networks directors announcing the policy change.

The email’s subject line is “Operational memorandum: Removal and Replacement of ‘V-J Day in Times Square’ Photographs” and the email is dated Feb. 29, 2024.

“The Office of the Assistant Under Secretary of Health for Operations is sending the attached memorandum … on behalf of the VHA, Assault and Harassment Prevention Office,” the email states, directing recipients to share the memo with leaders of their respective VA medical centers.

Nelson directed the photograph’s removal from VA facilities over concerns that the likely non-consensual nature of the kiss violated the VA’s policies on sexual harassment and assault, she said in the alleged memo.

“The placement of this photograph in VA facilities was intended to celebrate and commemorate the end of World War II and the triumphant return of American soldiers,” the memo states. “However, perspectives on historical events and their representations evolve.”

VA employees allegedly said the photograph made them uncomfortable and that its display could suggest the VA endorses the “inappropriate behavior” it depicts, according to the memo.

“This action reflects our dedication to creating a respectful and safe workplace and is in keeping with our broader efforts to promote a culture of inclusivity and awareness,” the memo reportedly stated.

Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured the iconic photograph of a sailor, George Mendonsa, kissing a complete stranger — a nurse named Greta Zimmer Friedman — on Aug. 14, 1945, according to Time. It came to represent the relief and joy Americans felt once they realized the war had finally ended.

AUTHOR

MICAELA BURROW

Investigative reporter, defense.

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