VA Officials Defend ‘Oscar the Grouch’ Training Guide

A national VA spokesman said the training slides were "certainly not intended to equate veterans with a popular children's television character."

At a town hall meeting yesterday, Philadelphia Veterans Affairs officials defended a set of training slides titled “What to Say to Oscar the Grouch — Dealing With Veterans During Town Hall Claims Clinics.”

The Inquirer obtained the slides and reported on them on Wednesday. (“About a dozen slides include pictures of the misanthropic Muppet in the can he calls home,” Tricia Nadolny wrote.) This angered veterans, who said comparing them to Oscar the Grouch made them look, well, grouchy.

But Philadelphia VA director Diana Rubens said the slides were not intended to compare vets to Oscar the Grouch. No, it was about telling employees to keep “our inner Oscar” inside. Rubens even admitted having never watched Sesame Street. Now that is the real Muppet-related VA scandal!

The Inquirer even got a quote from James Hutton, a national VA spokesman, who noted the VA training slides were “certainly not intended to equate veterans with a popular children’s television character.” (And, even if they were, the comparison should be to Grandpa Simpson.)

The VA shouldn’t have to defend an internal training guide that strongly when the biggest slights against vets are using cartoons of a famous Muppet and telling its employees some demands from vets might be unreasonable. Fortunately, the complaints at the town hall meeting — the first in Philadelphia set to deal with complaints about VA hospital service — were about actual problems, not cartoon comparisons.