A Department of Veterans Affairs employee is threatening to throw away a Christmas tree that was found in the Philadelphia office.
The threat was made in a Tuesday email, which was marked "Importance: High," from an employee at the Veterans Service Center at the VA regional office in Philadelphia.
"There is a Christmas tree, ornaments, and decorations in the cubicle across from Luis Stevenson's desk (the same cubicle where the scanner is housed)," the staffer said, according to an email obtained by the Washington Examiner.
"If this belongs to you, please claim it," the staffer wrote. "Otherwise it will be discarded on Friday, 12/02/2016."
The employee is Rebecca Cellucci, who is a "coach" at the Intake Processing Center.
In response to questions from the Washington Examiner, the Philadelphia Regional Office said Wednesday that the email was an attempt to get people to remove "clutter" from a common area of the office, and that the VA doesn't have a policy against holiday decorations.
"During this process, they identified a fully closed cardboard box containing a dismantled Christmas tree along with other stored holiday décor," the office said. "An email was sent in an effort to identify the owner of the box, and it was claimed shortly thereafter by a fellow employee."
"Under local Human Resources guidance, holiday decorations are allowed and encouraged through the month of December with certain guidelines in place to ensure a safe, happy holiday season for all employees at the Philadelphia Regional Office," it said.
Still, VA employees told the Examiner that workers weren't happy about the email, especially in light of the several controversies still plaguing the agency. That includes ongoing problems with veteran wait times, and the ongoing inability of the VA to fire more than a handful of the officials involved in that systemic problem.
"With veteran suicides at record highs, is this really the most pressing issue for the management at the Philly VA — one that demands a maximum effort and an all-employee, urgent email ... to declare war on Christmas?" one official asked.
"I can understand if it's a couple of weeks after Christmas, but it's a couple of weeks before Christmas," another official said. "The Grinch might have stolen everyone's Christmas tree, but he never actually threatened to end its life by a certain date."
This story was updated on Wednesday to add the VA's response.