Farenthold: Veterans not 'cartoon characters'

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) on Thursday condemned an internal Department of Veterans Affairs training guide that compared dissatisfied veterans with Oscar the Grouch.

Reports emerged this week that a VA training slideshow included depictions of Oscar the Grouch from "Sesame Street" on instructions detailing how to handle veterans who are unhappy with their VA-provided care.

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Farenthold argued the controversial training guide demonstrated systemic problems with the VA.

"I see our veterans as American heroes, not as cartoon characters," Farenthold said in a statement. "The VA is a broken system and this is yet another example of the failure of VA executives to provide veterans the respect and quality service they deserve."

Farenthold further urged VA Secretary Robert McDonald to apologize.

"I am calling on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald, to publicly apologize and deal with executives responsible for this offensive training guide," Farenthold said.

Before departing for the August recess, Congress cleared compromise legislation that allows veterans to seek treatment at non-VA providers who participate in Medicare if they live more than 40 miles away from the nearest VA facility or if agency physicians cannot see them within 30 days. It also provides $10 billion to pay for veterans' healthcare at private facilities and $5 billion for the VA to hire more doctors.

President Obama signed the measure into law earlier this month.