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WASHINGTON — A Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Georgia sent an emergency email alert Friday about a false news story on a satirical site that veterans are misconstruing as true.

The false article states President Joe Biden ordered the VA to withhold health care benefits from veterans who refuse to receive coronavirus vaccines. The story was published by DelawareOhioNews.com, which describes itself as a satire and parody entertainment website.

The Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, Ga., issued an email alert Friday to inform veterans that the article is not true.

“It’s sick,” the email reads. “There is nothing funny about spreading false stories of stripping our heroes of their hard-earned benefits.”

The false article was posted online in September. It was shared widely after a Republican lawmaker from Iowa, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, tweeted about it. Along with a link to the story, she tweeted: “If true, this is insane!”

As of Friday, Miller-Meeks’ tweet had not been deleted, despite the story being marked as satire.

In a legal statement on its website, DelawareOhioNews.com states “all stories herein are parodies (satire, fiction, fake, not real) of people and/or actual events.”

The VA urged people Friday to stop sharing the false article.

“The president has not and will not withhold benefits to veterans who choose not to be vaccinated,” said Terrence Hayes, the VA press secretary. “The spread of this misinformation is extremely detrimental to our veterans and their families and should cease immediately.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters in Washington, D.C. is shown in this undated file photo.
The Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters in Washington, D.C. is shown in this undated file photo. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
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Nikki Wentling has worked for Stars and Stripes since 2016. She reports from Congress, the White House, the Department of Veterans Affairs and throughout the country about issues affecting veterans, service members and their families. Wentling, a graduate of the University of Kansas, previously worked at the Lawrence Journal-World and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The National Coalition of Homeless Veterans awarded Stars and Stripes the Meritorious Service Award in 2020 for Wentling’s reporting on homeless veterans during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018, she was named by the nonprofit HillVets as one of the 100 most influential people in regard to veterans policymaking.
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