Thursday, April 26, 2012

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans: One speaks out against current administration.

Mr. MacGregor, (or whom it may concern):
I am a Veteran who is staying at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, and I today I was made aware that within the next couple of weeks, a Permanent administrator would be chosen for this facility. Amongst those named as possible candidates, is the existing Temporary administer Sara Dun.
I want it know that I stand with my fellow veterans in strong opposition to such a choice.
Since I came to Grand Rapids Home for Veterans (henceforth GRH4V), in October of 2010, I have watched the quality of life for veterans diminish to the point where many feel they are imprisoned. We feel we do not have a voice to, or in this administration, which has been ran by Sara Dun since before I arrived in October of 2010. There is a "good ole boy" network running this place, and when that happens, you know that only a few people benefit at the cost of many and that is what we have seen here over the last 18 months.
I have seen where this administration has reported to the State Legislature that the Outside Smoking area was built and completed, yet when a congressional representative came to look at it, found out that the project wasn't even started - It was started the very next day and completed in 2 days , but then it took another 6 months to get the heaters installed, and yet another 4 months to get them working and approved. The first year it was up, was a bad winter, and we had no heat. The result was we lost over 40 veterans to Pneumonia related illnesses for having to go outside, in an enclosed area, that had no heat.
I have seen where the staff has told us that items would be taken off the menu - but never were. Where items would be improved, but they were made worse, not better, for the menu.
I have seen individual volunteers, and groups of volunteers, and veterans organizations leave this place claiming they would not return until this administration was REPLACED, and that means Sara Dun and her staff.
I have seen misappropriation of funds, and embezzlement of funds (due to the fact they were used for purposes other than what they were intended and donated for). Funds that were not issued until the people who donated them inquired as to where they went, and abuse of the public trust by means of re-routing donations.
I have seen people who donated clothing items, blankets and other such needs for the veterans, never go to the veterans, instead they were re-routed to a second hand store located in downtown Grand Rapids, or to the new veterans outreach place down town, even though those items were meant for veterans currently living at the Home.
When I first arrived there the Clothing room was opened every day. Now with the new clothing room completed and the media blitz over, we get just 5 hours a week, 2.5 hours on Monday and 2.5 hours on Thursday, to access the new clothing room, which has less than 1/4th the inventory the old one did. Many sizes of needed items are not even available, yet clothing donations were being re-routed to a different location for over 6 months prior to the New Clothing's rooms grand opening.
When I first arrived here, we had Bingo games 4 to 6 days a week, and the volunteers who put them on were allowed to give us treats such as coffee and doughnuts, or fruit, or cookies, and snack cakes. Not anymore. Now we get Bingo about 2 to 3 times a week with no treats except on rare occasions.
When I first arrived here, and was put into the Dormitory unit (henceforth the Dom unit), we had 3 nurses, and sometimes had 24/7 coverage. Now we are down to 2, and sometimes go all weekend without a nurse on duty in case of an emergency. 
We had more activities. The ITP room (incentive therapy room) located in the basement of the Mann building, was opened every day. Now it is opened part time, 2 to 3 days a week.
Last year, (2011) at a special meeting with a new commander, some Colonel something, who was going to be in  charge of the Michigan Department of Military affairs, told us that it was their goal to make our rooms into 2 man rooms to give us some living space. Most of us only have 10 feet by 10 feet, and a stand up closet that is 22 inches by 24 inches by 6 feet high. In that 10x10 area, we have a bed, dresser, and a table, with about 3 feet between that and the bed.
Instead, the home is cramming people into rooms, and on the Dom unit,. most rooms now contain 3 or 4 (max) people. Many people being moved to the Dom unit since January of 2012, from other units, should not be in the Dom unit at all!. In stead of giving us more room, we now have less. And the Federal VA  cited the Dom unit for not being "homey" enough. Well, when your room has room for you to lay in bed only, what did they expect?
I have seen veterans being financially raped by this administration and their usage of "guardians" or "conservators", in the Michigan Probate court system. These people take away a veterans rights, property and money, all without being held accountable to anyone but a State Judge. We have one case pending now, that will probably be moved to Federal court to seek redress of grievances against the Michigan judge and the Guardian, under Federal Title 42, known as a "Blevins action". And that is just one of several such cases that are in the works.
I have seen people who have had their personal property taken from them, without a court order, by staff members. And upon demand of having it returned, they are threatened with expulsion. I have seen members be deigned access to their money held in the member bank, simply because a counselor has decided to limit their withdrawal amounts to less than 2 dollars a day.
I have witnessed staff neglect veterans by allowing them to wear the same clothing for months at a time, which I consider to be an abuse to the other veterans who have to live with the person who is not being required to live up to the personal hygiene standards as they are stated in the Member Handbook.
I have witnessed staff members at Member counsel meetings, totally ignore what is being said, and their failure to pass along to their superiors, what is being said, and what the concerns of veterans are.
I have personally experienced and witnessed, where a veteran has an appointment at the VA clinic located next to this facility, not be told about it until the day of the appointment. And veterans who had appointments at the VA hospital in Ann Arbor, and not be told when, or how they were going to get there until the time they had to leave on the GRH4V shuttle bus. New arrivals are not told that a shuttle bus goes to Ann Arbor on a regular basis, so  they find out just minutes before they are supposed to leave for their appointments, which does not give the veteran proper amount of time to prepare. Also, medical information needed for Ann Arbor visits are not being given to veterans. Information such as Fasting requirements for blood work to be done at the VA hospital. Our pre-visit requirements are not being passed on to the Veteran. Only that they have an appointment on such and such a day at a specific time. 
It is clear, there is no working chain of command here, and no continuity of policy, and very little if any information being distributed that needs to be.
The way I see it, all this has happened on Sara Dun's watch, meaning when she has been in charge. Part of being a good administrator is making sure the quality of life of the veterans improves, or is a good one. All I have seen in my 18 months here, indicates that the quality of life is diminishing and this place is slowly becoming a place to go and die, not live.
This is why I stand against her being appointed as permanent administer of this facility. It is nothing personal. It is based on the results and the circumstances I see happening all around me every day.
Thank You.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are screened for privacy reasons, and those posted are posted "as they were written" minus any information that the writer sent to us that is for our use only or for which they requested be made private.