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.

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