“That’s right, the Department of Veterans Affairs is not handicapped accessible to metro riders!”

by Prince Of Petworth August 16, 2016 at 2:10 pm 20 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

I work in the building above the east entrance to the McPherson square metro (at 14th & I NW). Employees who work in the building above the metro (like me) can FOB in to an underground hallway that leads to the building’s elevator, so you don’t have to go outside if you work in the building. On a couple of occasions I’ve encountered a man in a wheelchair waiting for someone to FOB him into the hallway with the elevator. He explained to me, in an effort to gain my trust to allow him into the building with my FOB, that he works at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is located above/next to the west entrance of the McPherson square metro, and apparently does not have an elevator.

That’s right, the Department of Veterans Affairs is not handicapped accessible to metro riders! On the day I encountered the man in the wheelchair, the 1 and only public elevator at the east entrance of the McPherson square metro wasn’t working. So, he had to wait until an employee from my building FOB-ed him in (which we’re not supposed to do) to gain access to the ONLY working elevator at the McPherson square metro. Even once he was able to gain access to the elevator and exit the building at the 1st floor, he had to wheel 2+ blocks back to the Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs. I know this man isn’t alone in his struggle. It just doesn’t quite make sense to me that the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, whose main constituency is handicapped veterans, is not handicapped accessible.

  • gugul

    Correct that there’s no elevator on the west entrance (http://www.wmata.com/rail/elevator_escalator_inline.cfm?station_id=36)

    However, your beef is with WMATA not the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

    • +1, if Metro HAS an elevator, but it’s not working, that’s not VA’s fault.

  • Anonymous

    ADA regulations tend to focus on what is “reasonable”, and if there is an ADA compliant entrance on Vermont (which looks to be the case from Google Maps) then this doesn’t sound like a noncompliance issue. It sounds like an inconvenience in that the handicapped gentleman has to go outside from the 14th and I entrance.

  • Huh?

    Neither is any other building that doesn’t have a direct access to metro. It would be a nice perk, but are you criticizing VA for not having an elevator to the metro (or is this a criticism of metro)? I’m glad this guy found a work-around for metro lacking a public elevator at this location, because I’m sure that makes his commute much easier.

    The building IS handicap friendly from the street. There are ramps with direct elevator access at both entrances of the building.

    Also, the constituency of the Department of Veterans affairs is not “mainly handicapped Veterans”…it’s Veteran’s…a vast majority of which are not handicapped.

  • anon

    The issue here is with WMATA – it was their elevator that was out. It’s easy to overlook for someone who doesn’t rely on elevators, but if you paid attention you’d notice that pretty much every day there’s at least 1 metro station without a working elevator. Those in wheelchairs are supposed to metro to the next station with a working elevator, and then rely on a shuttle back to the station they need.

  • andy2

    Also I think the VA’s mission is beyond just those veteran’s with handicaps – GI Bill, VA loans – taking care of the entire veteran and her/his family.

  • neighbor

    Agree with the comments above. This is very misleading. The problem is with metro, not the VA. I’m not sure what you want the VA to do about WMATA’s broken elevator other than ask them to fix it.
    It’s nice to have an underground entrance to your building direct from metro, but definitely not a right or an ADA requirement.

    • Gabeyo

      I’ve worked at the VA for six years. I never used WMATA elevators but Department of VA. is handicapped accessible the main building entrance on Vermont Ave. has a handicap ramp and there are multiple elevator banks, also I think the side entrance on 14&I is handicap accessible. This post is a complete lie. there are many people with disabilities who work at the VA, veterans and non-veterans. All Federal buildings have to ADA compliant. This post is BS.

  • Homework

    Ok- so the elevator was out one day? I’m not disabled, but I can’t use a number of escalators due to anxiety. This is why you (sadly) need to check stations ahead of time to look for elevator outages. If this gentleman had looked, he would have seen that he needed to get off at a different station and get shuttled over.

  • pago

    The word “fob” has been in the English language for more than 400 years. It originally meant a watch pocket but over time came to mean a watch chain or an ornament on a keychain or watch chain. It is a word derived from an older German word for pocket. It is not an abbreviation. It is not an acronym. You do not need to capitalize any of the letters in it.

    • KenyonDweller

      It’s also not a verb, while we’re at it.

      • textdoc

        It _is_ actually a verb… just not in the sense that it was used here. (Not yet, at least.)
        I don’t mind its use as a verb to mean “to enter a building with a keyfob.” I do mind the capitalization, since it’s not an acronym.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, you are correct that the nonoperable elevator is WMATA’s issue. Yes, the Office of Veterans Affairs has an ADA-compliant street entrance, and yes, the Office of Veterans Affairs does serve a nonwheelchair-bound public. However, the OVA serves a larger wheelchair-bound constituency than most other organizations in the immediate vicinity.
    There is a humane issue at play here. Have the commenters been limited to commuting by wheelchair? Had to rely on a Metro shuttle that runs infrequently during rush hour? Had to rely on the kindness of a stranger to provide the means to leave the Metro station when the elevator is not working. Had to travel city blocks by wheelchair, especially in this heat? This is a terrible circumstance for someone who is wheelchair-bound.

    • dcd

      Of course it is. No one is disputing that. But the ire directed at the VA is misplaced.

    • Huh?

      I don’t think anyone on this chain would argue against this person having direct access to the elevator from the building. The post, though, identified the wrong entity that’s at fault. It’s not the Department of Veterans Affairs’ responsibility (just like it’s not the responsibility of any other office building to provide elevator access into a tunnel that connects to the metro). As an aside, there are plenty of people employed in the building that are handicapped.

  • B’dale Res

    Might I ask what handicap means to you? In order to be a veteran, must you be handicap too?

  • anoNE

    In the case of metro elevator outages, don’t they post / announce along the entire system that riders requiring an elevator at that station should instead exit at station Z or Y and a shuttle will be provided? No, it’s not convenient, but I think a lot of other posters are correct in their points above that for many reasons, this isn’t on the VA.

  • horseradishplum

    Wow. As someone who currently works at VA, I can confidently state that central office is accessible. But I guess the truth doesn’t really matter to people who want to play the “everyone at VA hates Veterans” game.

  • textdoc

    What others have said — the OP’s indignation should be aimed at WMATA, not the VA.
    Also, even though the population that the VA serves probably has a higher proportion of handicapped individuals than the general population… I’m not clear that this particular VA building actually gets much traffic from veterans seeking services. Wouldn’t it be mainly employees of the VA? (Though I’d imagine that the proportion of VA employees who are handicapped is probably greater than at other government agencies…)

    • Amera

      Wow. Without words for all the negativity for the concern for wheelchair vets. It does not matter about fault or how many are handicapped. It only matters that someone cared enough for someone to get to their destination easier. Its just a concern. I agree that if it could be make easier make a way. All the money we waste on bill boards and commercials and other non sense why not waste some of that money on helping tired innocent veterans get to their destination in that building easier and quicker.


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