The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) apologized on Wednesday for temporarily implementing what it called an "ill-advised" policy at some medical centers that banned veterans from bringing cellphones to appointments, according to a statement provided by the VA to the Washington Free Beacon.
Photographs emerged earlier this week showing official signs at VA medical facilities stating that a veteran would have his or her appointment cancelled if they bring with them a cellphone.
The photos, first published on the blog Disabled Veterans, depict of a list of "prohibited items." Included within that list, along with guns, knives, and backpacks, is a photo of an iPhone.
"If brought to your appointment [these items] will result in the cancelation of your exam(s)," reads the flyer, which bears the VA’s official logo and slogan, "Defining Excellence in the 21st Century."
These flyers were included in appointment packages to veterans, according to a VA official who spoke to the Free Beacon and disclosed that the flyers would be "immediately discontinued."
"The flyer included in Veterans’ Compensation and Pension (C&P) appointment letters at the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System’s (ECHCS) Golden community based outpatient clinic were ill-advised," The VA official said in a statement.
Exams will not be cancelled if a phone is brought to a C&P appointment, the official made clear.
"All C&P program managers across the system have been informed that the distribution of these, or similar, flyers should be immediately discontinued," the official said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) goal is to provide veterans with the care and the opportunities for health that they have earned through their service and sacrifices."
The flyers had originally caught some vets off guard and prompted Disabled Veterans’ Benjamin Krause to criticize the VA.
"The decision is a violation of due process and numerous laws protecting the rights of disabled Americans," Krause wrote.
"The key here seems to be that VA forgets that veterans are also Americans who are protected by the Constitution and who also possess unalienable rights," he adds. "Did we sign our rights away forever by fighting our country’s battles?"
Moreover, Krause wrote, "the leaflet does not explain what to do if the veteran is prescribed use of an iPhone or backpack as an accommodative device that helps the disabled veteran with a disability."