Friday, January 27, 2012

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans: Crime in progress part 18

Financing your stay at GRH4V. This article is dedicated to the discussion about member financing, and the problems being encountered. It will be a long one and I will update it, (finish posting it) later this week.

In the mean time, I encourage readers to look at the paper found at this link.
Michigan Veterans Homes, by Bruce Baker, Fiscal Analyst, May 1997.

It contains a history of the home up to that time, and was written for the Michigan Senate. A very very interesting paper.

Where is the money, and where did it go?

That is the question many Veterans are and have been asking. As previously reported in this blog, monitory donations have disappeared, and in one case, the people making the donations inquired about their donation, which they knew had NOT been given to the designated veterans who were supposed to have gotten it. Only then did the administration come up with the funds and ensured the donators that by months end the designated veterans would be getting their donations. Well, that is not the only money that goes missing.

As this entry into the blog page starts, I refer you to a paper written in 1979, which covers a lot of good information about GRH4V, and the Michigan veterans home trust.

At issue today is lack of accountability both in actual accounting and reporting, and in the responsibility of the administration to account for money being used to pay for veterans living expenses here. As well as money donated for specific things and not being used for those things.

First, Veterans are concerned about the fact that when they apply to come here, they sign a bunch of paperwork. And few if any, receive a copy of said paperwork unless they ask for it. Some have asked several times without the copies forthcoming. The fact remains that when a Veteran applies for admission and is admitted, within 30 days of their arrival they should automatically and by policy, be given a copy of their admission paperwork.

Second, the Veterans are now discussing financial statements which they believe should be given to each Veteran every month. I disagree (and I am a member veteran here). I think every 6 months or when changes to a Veteran’s financial state is completed, they should be given a financial statement.

This financial statement should be required to show the veteran how much it is costing them to live here. What amounts are being charged for room and board, meals, medical, and miscellaneous expenses.

It should also show where funds are coming in from, to pay for these expenses. Does the member get a pension, or disability check, and from who, and for how much? Add up all the Veterans incoming revenue and see if it is more than what it costs the veteran to be here. The excess should be given back to the veteran.

Many current veterans believe they are over paying and the home is keeping the excess amount while they only get 100 dollars a month from it.

One fellow told me that he has a statement that says it costs him 1,900 a month to be here. That his Social security pays 918 a month and his disability pension pays another 1,400.00. Totaled, that means about 2,300.00 a month. Now the home only gives him 100 dollars a month to spend. If his cost is 1,900 a month and he gets 2,300.00 a month, then there is a difference of 400 dollars. He gets 100 of that. Where does the other 300 dollars a month go? Without a financial statement, the Veteran has no idea.
And without a financial statement, the Veteran has no way to truly know the costs associated with his stay here.

Third, bulk settlement checks. When a veteran applies for disability, either thru the VA (Veterans Administration) thru the government (an army disability), or Social Security (SSDI) it can take MONTHS for the paperwork to get thru. Some times it takes years.

When a Veteran finally gets approval for disability or what ever they applied for, they get retro active pay that starts from the day they filed their claim. So lets say it takes them 27 months to get their approval. Of that 27 months the last 12 were spent at the Veterans home. Prior to that, let us say they lived at their own homes. The Veteran will get a check for 27 months of benefits. Hold that though.

Now when a veteran comes here that has no resources, or no income as they call it, someone pays for their stay here. For the sake of this discussion, lets say the Michigan Veterans trust pays 80 percent and the VA pays 20. And the cost for this veteran is 2,000.00 a month to be here. This pays for the veteran while his disability claim is being processed.

So the home got 2,000 x12 or 24,000.00 to house this veteran before his benefits started.

When the Veteran finally gets his benefits, his check will be for 2,200.00 per month times 27 or 54,000.00. The home will claim he has to pay back 24,000.00 and give him 100.00 bucks for that month and then they will keep the rest of the remaining 30,000 dollars. WHY? What gives them the right to do that?

In this case, 29,900 dollars extra is kept by the home for unknown reasons and for unknown expenditures. The Veterans think WE should be given that money. Isn’t that called misappropriation, or embezzlement? And isn’t that a FELONY crime? We think so.

And we want to know where that money goes. No one will tell us. And no one will tell us where the money they take from that benefits check goes. Does it repay the Michigan Veterans Trust, for the money they gave us to pay for our living expenses here? Does it go back to the VA to repay the VA for the money it sent here to help pay our living cost here?

Or does it all go into the general fund (pig trough) where the money is spent without any accountability? That’s where we think it goes. But again, no one will tell us.

Forth, there is a lot of discussion about the rubber stamping of checks that arrive in the names of Veterans, and cashed by GRH4V without the Veteran even knowing that a check and the amount of the check, has arrived. The members are now claiming that there should be a requirement for all veterans to counter sign all checks addressed to them, or that name them as the payee or “pay to the order of” person, unless a specific waiver is issued and signed by the Veteran or his/her Guardian, or a court order.

What about the status of some of the Veterans? While all Veterans living at the home are called “members” the fact is some of the Veterans have a special designation: Homeless Veteran. In the Rankin Building, there is a unit called the Dom unit, or Dormitory unit. Many veterans here at the home call this unit, “the flop house for drunks”, but Veterans with drinking problems are not limited to this unit. Other units also have people with drinking problems, some of whom are in powered wheel chairs. The Dom unit is for ambulatory people; those who can care for themselves, medicate themselves, and need little or no supervision. Nursing staff is there in the form of 1 nurse per shift, for up to 2 shifts of 8 hours per shift. Sometimes we get only get 1 nurse shift per day, like on weekends. A unit doctor is available twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am till he is done, usually by noon. Counselors are also assigned to each veteran, as well as a nutritionist, However, most only see their nutritionist once a year, and many only see their counselor once every 6 months. There are no mandatory counsel meetings of any kind, and if you need mental health help, they usually send you next door to the Coit street VA clinic. And some of these guys (most) need help with stress and depression as this place gets to you and can really make you feel down.

Some of the veterans in this unit are there by court order. At least 2 are there permanently. This will be their home until they die. Others were there by court order after getting out of prison, and while on parole. They eventual can leave. Yet another group exists that is there temporarily while they go thru medical situations that require them to convalesce and heal up from the medical ordeal. Then there are the homeless veterans. Those who have no home, no job, no income, nothing and its live here or live on the street are the Homeless Veterans. Some of these people have ongoing medical conditions. This veteran has an ongoing medical condition that was being investigated by the VA clinic, which is located right next door, prior to being admitted to this home, and prior to being evicted from a family members home. Now he has no income, no place to live, and has applied for disability. If he gets it, he will have to face the problems mentioned in the 3rd item above. Instead of being able to keep his back pay benefits check, the home will take it all, and will give him 100.00. How is someone supposed to be able to re-start their lives with just 100 dollars? This is a dilemma facing many veterans in the Dom unit.

But as written in a previous entry in this blog, the address of 3000 Monroe Ave is NOT a valid home address for people. Many web sites will not recognize the address as a valid address, even though other pages clearly list it as the Grand Rapids Veterans Home. If they are classified as homeless, yet they are living at a home for veterans, is this not their home, just as it is for other veterans? Or are they classified as homeless because they have no resources to pay the cost of staying here? And since some have applied for Social Security disability or VA disability, they too will face the issues in the third item mentioned above. Since they too will eventually have resources to pay for their stay here, shouldn’t they be given Financial statements showing them how much is being charged to pay for their stay and when they get their disability lump sum checks, how much of those checks when to paying off the cost of their previous months stay?

Lots of questions with NO answers forth coming from the administration, except the usual expected Bull crap spin doctoring. Never a straight or definitive answer.

Maybe when the state legislature starts to investigate this place we will finally get our answers.

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans: Crime in Progress. Part 17

Abuses by the new J2S health care workers.

Remember, up until recently the health care workers were state employees, many with years on the job.

Now the J2S people are coming in and hell is starting to be raised. THIS part of the ongoing series about what is happening to GRH4V will be updated as needed to notify you readers of reports of wrong doing by these new J2S workers.

Today's report is about Shutting off the TV's. Many members watch TV at night in their rooms, as they have individual tv's. This is allowed as long as the other room mates do not object and they use headphones after 10pm, and before 6am, which is lights out time according to the member handbook.

It is being reported that on one unit, new health care workers are shutting down TV's at 11pm, even taking the remote controls out of members hands and shutting off the TV's themselves, when a member protests and says they will not shut off their TV's.
These new health care workers do not have the right to be ordering members around - that is for administration staff, medical staff, and counselors.

The J2S health care workers are there to wipe noses, butts, change diapers, help members with tasks, not to order them to do or not to do things that up until now, have been done by members for years.

More later.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans: Crime in progress part 16

LMAO.. Rumor control is reporting that this morning the board of directors held a meeting here at the home.
Present were some volunteers, some staff, a news reporter, and staff was headed by Doctor Edgar, who was filling in for the acting director Sara Dunn who is on vacation.

One of the volunteers told us today that the Board of directors did not know, that the 4th floor of the Mann building is being shut down and members (veterans) are being moved to other floors. The purpose of shutting down the floor, is being explained to members, that they are going to renovate it, but staff members are telling veterans (members) that they are shutting it down to save money.

And some people got laid off again, and it did not go by seniority, but by random whim of some unknown person and NO ONE ON THE BOARD of DIRECTORS knew this stuff was going on!

And that is exactly what the veterans have been complaining about for over a year. NO continuity from the administration, no accountability and we ( the tax payers and veterans) are paying for it all.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans: Crime in progress part 15

More donations being rerouted and not getting to the veterans.

It has been reported that a group of elderly ladies donated a bunch of blankets to the veterans home just before christmas, which never got to the veterans. Seems each blanket had a little envelope tucked inside the folded blankets, thanking the veterans for their service. Well, last week one of the ladies who brought the blankets came into the home and asked what happened to them. They were told that no one knew. Then she told the volunteer that one of her ladies from her group found 2 of those blankets at a local 2nd hand store! And they were wondering if ANY of us got their blankets.

Well, after hearing this, we checked and sure enough, no one has seen any of those little envelopes. So here we have another example of stuff coming in, that never gets to the veterans.

Apparently it is now policy that if someone donates anything, the home decides what to do with it. It doesn't necessarily go to the veterans, and people who donate things to the vets, should be told that veterans may not get them.

This kind of policy causes people to stop giving not only to the veterans but other charitable organizations, when this kind of thing happens. It angers me to see these good people being taken advantage of.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans: Crime in Progress, part 14

Sexual harassment, or harassment of veterans? You decide.

A volunteer who runs the clothing room (Who we will call SAM for this posting, but whose real name is being withheld for privacy reasons), has brought charges of Sexual Harrassment against one of the members. Ive mentioned Fred, in the blog post "GRH4V is stealing from veterans on 8/17/2011. Fred is a Vietnam veteran who is suffering from agent orange. He can barley walk, or stand. He usually rides around in a 3 wheeled scooter.

Apparently at Karaoke held on Sunday nights, he and SAM danced 2 weeks ago, and it is being reported that she now claims he sexually harassed her by trying to caress one of her breasts. However, it is also being reported that the administration here has looked at the video camera footage of the security camera and has cleared Fred of wrong doing.

But apparently SAM and Husband are pursuing this issue by hiring a private attorney to prosecute it. As such the administration wants to move Fred out of the home, and has told him not to go to events where SAM is.

Now SAM is a volunteer, and according to the volunteer handbook, they are not to be lingering around after their volunteer stuff is done.

Yet SAM Signs in as a volunteer and goes to Karaoke, and Guitars for Veterans class on a weekly basis. Her lap dog, Dave Zimmerman, one of the members here, is usually with her and sometimes her husband is also with her. Now for a while there, Dave Zimmerman had his nose stuck so far up the hind end of SAM, many people did not know where she left off and he began, as they were always together.

Tonight we had a special event. Chari Miles, a country and blues singer came to sing for the veterans. It is being reported that Fred showed up, and Dave Zimmerman told him to leave or he would get security, because Fred was advised by the Administration to stay away from SAM.

First, Dave Zimmerman is not the police nor has any administrative authority, so he should shut the he** up. Second, there is no court order forbidding Fred from attending activities FOR VETERANS. And third, this is his home, SAM is the guest here and she is not following the rules established for volunteers. Furthermore her actions with other vets, indicates she is having personal contact with them that may be inappropriate.

Fred is extremely upset, and is under emotional duress.

If this continues, a possible counter suit will be filed against SAM, naming Dave as a co-defendant, for harassing other veterans and for creating a hostile environment.

Why should one of the Veterans have to avoid going to activities which are held for VETERANS, so that a volunteer can come in and enjoy the activity without actually working it? These things are not being done for the benefit of the volunteers.

So who is being harassed here? SAM The Volunteer, or Fred the Veteran?

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans: Crime in Progress, part 13

Can you say Misappropriation, or Embezzlement? Because that is what is going on at GRH4V.

Seems one of the volunteer organizations were asked to provide 530 dollars, for 53, 10 dollar gift cards, for Non-income veterans who were in the Rankin unit. Many of these veterans have applied for disability and are waiting for their claim paperwork to be completed.

Well, the organization that Jackie and Jill belong to, wrote out a check for 530 dollars and it was given to GRH4V 2 weeks before Christmas. Guess what? The vets never got it.

And we found out that the money was supposed to have been deposited into our member bank accounts, like it was last year. (It was?!) I never got it last year and I was here.

Well Jackie and Jill found out that not only was the money not given to the Veterans, but that there are now 35 not 53 members who are non-income people.

Jackie and Jill asked them why they asked for the money before Christmas, if they had no intention of giving it to the veterans at Christmas?. The reply was that they got too busy. Well, now it is being told that other veterans did not get their 10 bucks last year either.

AND, now the home is telling Jackie and Jill that this next Tuesday, 10 Jan 2012, the Rankin building members of Ranking 2 and 3, (ambulatory people) will be given BRAND NEW CLOTHING from the homes clothing store (stuff that is donated), and those who are Non-income will be given 15 dollars cash.

The Clothing store, (as we call it) is donated clothing for all veterans here at the home. And they are currently moving locations within a building from the NCO Club back to their original location, now that renovations have been completed. They expect to reopen it some time in late February.

Well, a lot of clothing and supplies from that area are being shipped off campus. We don't know where the donated stuff is going.

And Jackie and Jill are very upset that the money they raised was not given to the veterans.
And if the veterans do not get their money on Tuesday, criminal charges will be filed.

Basically, someone got caught doing what has been going on here for over 5 years - misappropriation of funds, re-routing of funds, and donated items not getting to the people for whom they were intended for.

They call that embezzlement.

Well, the veterans did get the money Jackie and Jill donated. But instead of 53 non-income vets, there were 35. So each vet got 15 dollars. And new clothing that had been donated was also made available, but most of it did not fit, and was too small for the veterans. But at least we got the 15 dollars.

Update Feb 14, 2012

I heard this from 2 groups of people. The first group was the 2 gals, Jackie and Jill and the 2nd was from volunteers from another veterans organization. It seems this other organization was also approached at the same time Jackie and Jills organization was, and it too was asked to make a donation for Christmas for the non-income veterans on Rankin 2 and 3. Well those veterans never got that money. When the issue was pressed, the home said the money was used to buy gifts for those veterans and those gifts were given to the vets the same day they collected their 15 dollars, which was donated by Jackie and Jill's group.

What gifts? WE never got any gifts at Christmas other than the usual stuff. And when we FINALLY got the money the girls donated, (after Christmas), we were also offered some new clothing that we knew had been DONATED.

Now this other group is pushing for an investigation of where their donation went to.

It is clear to me, that we have now shown, that the home as a policy, takes money and donations for veterans, and never gives it to them, but instead uses it for other things. This to me, is plain embezzlement and misappropriation of funds.