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VA calendar lists wrong date for Independence Day

Attention, veterans: Ignore your 2014 Department of Veterans Affairs calendar.

Independence Day does not fall on July 3 this year.

About 357,000 VA calendars given to veterans across most of Florida, southern Georgia and Puerto Rico mistakenly label Thursday, July 3, as Independence Day and remind veterans that VA outpatient clinics are closed today for the holiday.

Apologies to the Founding Fathers. The Fourth of July still falls on July 4. So VA clinics actually will be closed Friday, not today.

A VA spokeswoman said the error was not noticed by agency proofreaders before the calendar went to the printer in late 2013, and regional VA officials decided to distribute the calendars rather than reprint them at great cost.

The calendar contains monthly "wellness messages" for veterans on maintaining good health.

"I don't know who made the mistake," Mary Kay Hollings­worth, a VA regional spokeswoman in Florida, said Wednesday. "We had a number of different people look at it. But we were focused on the wellness messages. It was an honest mistake."

The president of the American Institute for Preventive Medicine in Farmington Hills, Mich., which produced the calendar under a $210,000 contract for the VA, said he was unaware of the error until the Tampa Bay Times told him about it.

The president, Don Powell, said any printing error was ultimately his responsibility, even if VA proofreaders missed it.

"I am the president of the company, and I obviously take responsibility for everything we do," Powell said. "I feel somewhat red-faced about it."

Powell later called back the Times and said the institute had spotted the mistake before the calendar was printed. But he said the company that was hired by the institute to print the calendar failed to fix the error.

Powell said he did not know the name of the printer.

The institute's contract with the VA includes the printing of an annual report for regional VA leaders and a quarterly wellness magazine for veterans. The cost of just the calendar, which contains monthly tips for veterans on maintaining good health, was not immediately available.

Powell said he would have ordered a reprint of the calendar at no extra cost to the VA had the agency asked, but it didn't.

Of all the federal holidays to get wrong in a calendar for veterans, a patriotic holiday is one to avoid, said Dan Cruser, 66, of New Port Richey.

Cruser said he picked up a copy of the calendar at the VA's New Port Richey clinic and quickly noticed the error while waiting for an appointment.

"That's kind of an embarrassment," he said. "When I saw it, I thought, 'Who's the … idiot who did this?' "

The calendar has all of the other holidays correct. Christmas still falls on Dec. 25.

Contact William R. Levesque at levesque@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3432. Follow @WilliamRLevesqu.

VA calendar lists wrong date for Independence Day 07/02/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 11:26pm]
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