Saturday, March 30, 2013

How to make Improvements for the long term, at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

I know a lot of the posts here on this blog seem a bit negative. A few out right hostile. Yet some are positive and enlightening,  and are a joy to read.

Although this is one that may sound like a big negative, I truly hope that in the end it offers a positive outlook on the future of the Home.

First the Home's mission statement and why I think its a failure.

From the Michigan Government website, Grand Rapids Home for Veterans Mission Statement:

Our Mission: Provide compassionate quality interdisciplinary care for the members to achieve their highest potential of of independence, self worth, wellness and dignity.

Our Vision: Provide an environment that promotes meaningful quality of life by being a center of excellence in long term care.

Our Values: Strive to exceed our customer's expectations. Treat everyone with compassion, dignity, and respect. Each member, family, significant other, and staff services are valued as important resources. Recognize and honor all service to our country by the military, veterans, and individuals.

Part one. You need to understand that there are 2 groups of veterans at the home. The nursing care units, and the Dormitory unit. The "dom" as its called, is almost a totally separate group of veterans, and are treated differently than the Nursing unit veterans.  The Dom guys, are what the home was originally built for - to give homeless veterans a place to go so they wouldn't end up in poor houses that existed at the time.

In my case, the home failed to achieve the potential of independence, never addressed the issue of self worth as that is mental health which the home does not address as it has no staff to deal with such issues. They have counselors, but I really don't know what their main function is. My wellness was being worked on at the time of my discharge, and my dignity was destroyed by their lack of any coherent standard of policy enforcement. Since my incident was my first offense, I expected to be thoroughly chewed out and given 3 days out with a warning. 

The Vision, is one that is a work in progress and the sky is the limit for improvement under current conditions. Improvement is what the current administration desperately needs.

The values section - well, they didn't come close to exceeding my expectations, I was not treated with compassion during the last 2 weeks of my stay there,  and I was not treated with respect at all for the position I was in during that time.  Also I was not made to feel that I was an important resource. And since I have left the home, my name and character have been defamed by at least one staff member of whom I only talked directly to twice in my time at the home.

However, I will say this: The medical professional (doctor) assigned to my case is a good man, and one whom I have high respect for, as he truly cares. I did and will, only have praise for his attitude and professionalism. He serves as an example to the rest of the staff.

Also, I am thankful to the people of Michigan whom have provided this place for us veterans in our time of need. The problem is not the Home itself - its the people running it.

Now then. On to more positive things.

Part Two, how to make improvements for the future and the long run of the home, and for the benefit of the veterans and for the taxpayers who pay the bills.

So how do we improve things? Well for starters, lets establish the fact that the Home IS a home and get it recognized as such, like any other retirement facility. Have mail delivered by the post office. Establish a member post office, and hold people who work there, accountable. The home can get Dorm unit people to run the post office. Some were postal clerks in the Military, so why not use them, if they are willing?

Hold the staff or volunteers who go thru members mail, accountable. Require each to have a stamp that identifies them, and which has to be stamped on every piece of mail for a member that they open. Require them to give a photo copy of any mail whose original they keep.  Some veterans are past the point where they even know what mail is, so the mail handlers need to ensure the Guardian of the veteran gets that persons mail, and again, copies of anything the Home keeps.

As it stands today, the homes mailing address is NOT considered to be a valid home address for the people who live there. This has to change.

Second, replace the current administration with one of Veterans. Make it a requirement that the person filling the seat of the top job, or Administrator, also be a veteran. This does make a difference. Veterans are by their nature, different than most of the public, as many of us have witnessed, or been in high stress situations such as combat. How we perceive things, how we solve problems, our general attitude in life, was changed by our experiences in the military. My experience has shown me that only a veteran, has a true understanding of what its like to be a veteran.

Third, the home needs to remember its roots, and why it was established. In this time of budget crisis, the home needs to rely on itself for resources as much as it does the state. Using members to help out, could save thousands of tax dollars. Remember originally the home was self sufficient, and the work was done by veterans who were living at the home. Today members of the Dorm unit could be used by Grounds, maintenance,  Kitchen, and activities (as helpers on trips) departments, just to name a few. The argument that the state would become responsible; well for most of the Dorm's non income population, the state already IS responsible, or at least is paying for their needs, unless they get medical care from the VA Clinic or from the federal VA system. If the members are willing, why not put them to work and save some state tax money? At the same time, it would bolster the already sagging manpower levels at the home.

Forth, Establish an office for a full time service officer to assist veterans with getting their fullest VA benefits.

Fifth, establish an independent voice for the veterans, an ombudsman who is NOT a member of the staff at the home, a member of the Michigan department of veterans staff, nor a member of the board of directors. Also require that person to be a veteran.

Sixth, establish a proper chain of command and post it on each unit's bulletin board.

Seventh, Establish Disciplinary oversight counsel made up of members, staff and outside neutral volunteers that meets once a month.

Eighth,  Each unit has counselors. Lets see them do some counseling. Individual or groups of less than 10 people.

Ninth,  There is a problem with some of the guys assigned to the Dorm unit. For some government agencies, they are considered to be homeless, for others, they have a home as they have a bed at the Veterans home.
However, if you are a "homeless veteran" with no income at the vets home, you only get 5 dollars a week to use for your own use. If you have any kind of income, say from Social security disability or a government pension that does not cover more than the cost of your care in this unit, you only get to keep 100 a month. This makes it extremely difficult to try to return to society.  Especially in light of the fact that the home provides little if any help in relocating back to society. I have been told that the home has helped some guys with their first months rent or housing cost. However, if you are one who gets kicked out of the home for any reason, there is no help for you at all and one day you are at the home, the next on the street trying to find a place.

A veteran who has an income, but whom has already paid that months money to the home will get a partial refund, but it is very possible that the veteran will find themselves in a situation where they have no income  coming in for a period of up to 3 weeks. This is not good.

Tenth, The volunteer system needs to be restructured and oversight imposed. A system of checks and balances would do wonders. The need to track donations to make sure they get where they are supposed to go, is needed.

11th, computer system upgrade. Michigan system computers need to be able to talk to Federal VA computers so that veterans medical needs, and records can be used by both parties as many veterans still get some health care at the Clinic, or thru the VA hospitals in either Battle Creek, or Ann Arbor.  

12th. OPEN Internet for the veterans. A wifi system that is open to visitors who are visiting the home. We have been paying taxes for Internet access for schools and hospitals for over a decade, so why doesn't this hospital have it for everyone?

13th, a weekly or monthly web pages at the Michigan Veterans affairs website, showing the public, what the homes current need for volunteers and donations are. This way the home can be specific as to what it would like to see donated, and for what it needs volunteers for.

The home should not be a collection point for the 2nd hand store called "in the image".

14. The quality of the meals, and the main dining hall issues which have been addressed at member council meetings need to be acted upon and something accomplished.

15. Copies of all entry contracts, and anything signed by the veteran (or guardian) which resulted in the veteran becoming a member of the home, need to be give to all veterans (or guardians).

16. Monthly statements showing where funds came from and where they were applied, needs to be given to veterans on a bi monthly basis. Income people as well as non income people have a right to know who is paying for what, on their behalf or where their money is going.

17. Some veterans have told me that they are now being charged for care they previously did not have to pay for. When such a change occurs, for what ever reason, these veterans or their guardians need to be informed as to the changes, and why they have taken place.

18. Michigan guardian and conservator laws are a crime against humanity. This system has been in dire need of total overhaul and it is about time the Michigan congress addresses the issue. A veteran (or citizen) who is under the care of a guardian or conservator, is in fact, a financial slave with little or no say in the business of their personal affairs. Under current law the guardian or conservator can now lawfully ignore any and all input from the Veteran (or citizen). The conservator or guardian is only accountable to the court system. And that is not enough oversight.

Note, not all veterans at the home have guardians or conservators. Many do not. A few have them imposed by court order, others by family request, or have family members as guardians.

19. A number of veterans are at the home by court order. Several in the Ranking building in both Dorm and nursing unit (on the first floor of the Ranking building) are at the home by court order. The home is in effect, a prison for them, with little if any chance of them ever leaving it unless they die. This should be looked into by the Michigan legislature. I am sure several are there for their own good, and for good reasons by court decisions. But this is supposed to be a home, not a prison.

20. NO security in the dorm unit. Allow locks on the room doors, with a master key for staff members.
Currently dorm unit people have a locked drawer and a locked box in that drawer, and a locked stand up closet for their privacy. There is no reason why the doors cannot have locks with a master key available to medical staff, cleaning staff, and maintenance staff.  The Dorm unit has a nurse on duty during 2 shifts during the day, Monday thru Friday. Sometimes there is one there on Saturday. At one time they were staffed 24/7, with one nurse covering both of the floors that make up the Dorm unit, (floors 2 and 3 of the Rankin building).

Many of these suggestions were given to the administration during the time I was at the home, by the member councils.  The suggestions went unheard or unacknowledged by the staff and/or administration.

I will add more to this list, as suggestions become available.

Friday, March 22, 2013

GRH4V: Time for a Reality check.

I'm writing this blog entry not to be critical of the current situation at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. It is being written to show what people perceive that home to be like, and what it actually is.

Grand Rapids Home for veterans is (maybe was) the 4th largest veterans home in the USA. At one time in recent history (last 10 years) there could have been 750 people living there. Now, its down to about 400.

At first glance, the average person in Michigan would think the facility is for veterans. The fact is, its being run as if its just a place for state workers to finish up their 30 years of public service so that they can retire without loosing any benefits, like most other workers in the private sector have had to deal with.

What the average person does not know about the home, would fill a whole book. There are over 3 main housing buildings. Each has 3 floors with the center one having a 4th floor that is currently shut down. That 4th floor is supposed to be being renovated, but no work is being done to it at this time. It was in reality, shut down to save money (costs to the state).

This is supposed to be a home for the veterans, but unlike a normal retirement home, the mailing address for the home is not recognized as a valid address. In fact, the US post office does not deliver mail to the home. An employee picked up the mail, from the post office, once each day. That mail is then sorted, and gone thru by either employees or volunteers. Do you know of any other institution that does this? I am told they do this at prisons. 

There are over 13 different "units", in these 3 buildings. Each unit specializes in a particular type of care needed for the veteran who is assigned to that unit.  There are 2 main groups of veterans here. Those needing nursing care or health care constantly. These guys are in the "nursing units" and represent the majority of the veterans there. And there is the 2nd group, the guys who are ambulatory who don't need constant nursing care or assistance. They live in the Dorm Unit, or "dom".

As far as cost of care is concerned, most veterans don't have a clue about who is paying what and how much, for their care, as the home does not provide monthly statements that can be read and understood by veterans, showing them where the money comes from for their care, and where it went to.

In other words, how much money came from Pensions, or what ever source, and where it was applied. Was it applied to their medical, or basic housing costs?  The veterans just are not informed of this information.

In the Dom unit, most people are in one of two 2 financial groups. Income people and non income people. Those with pensions, or disability payments, either from the VA, Social security or insurance companies, are considered to be income veterans. Those with incomes, pay for all or part of the cost of care. They are allowed to keep 100 dollars per month for their personal use. And the rest goes for paying cost of care.
The basic cost of care for Dom unit people is 2100 per month. But it can be higher, if they are also charged medical costs.

Then there is the Non-income people.We are not sure who exactly pays for them. Is part of their costs paid for by the VA, and part by the Michigan veterans Trust? We do not know as the administration will not tell us.  But we do know they are given 5 dollars a week for personal use, or 20 dollars a month.

Guys in the Nursing units, cost of care varies, depending on the individuals needs.Costs can range from 2100 a month to as high as 6,000 a month. It all depends on that veterans financial status, level of disability, and and disability rating by the VA. 100 percent service connected disabled veterans get their care paid for in full by the federal VA - or so we are told.

Every member in Dom unit has a Nutritionist and a counselor assigned to them. In the 2 years I was there, I spoke to my Nutritionist once, and the counselor twice. Never got any real counseling. In fact, the counselor job at one time, was to kick people out for rule violations. Then they took that power away from him. I see on the Michigan state website, he makes over 70k per year for this job.. Wonder what he does to earn it? Oh, and there are 3 Nutritionists and counselors assigned to the Dom unit.

The home provides 3 'meals' a day, and on average, 72 square feet of semi private living space for each veteran. That is an 9 foot by 8 foot area, surrounded by a curtain. This area contains a bed, dresser, and a small table or some other piece of furniture.  Most rooms are 3 to 4 man rooms. Some rooms are single, and over in nursing units, some rooms are 2 person rooms, which should be the standard now. They also have a small closet area, for clothing that needs to be hung up.

In Dom unit, most rooms are 4 man rooms, with 3 to a room. A few rooms have 4, but I am told since December of 2012, they have reduced the units population and most guys now are in 2 man rooms. I am told a lot of guys left or got discharged (many against their will) between September and the end of December of 2012).

The home was originally created to give Civil war veterans who were found in poor houses, a place to live. Back then the home was self sufficient, and many of the veterans living there participated in the upkeep and maintenance of the home as well as working on the homes Farm which supplied it with food. 

Today Veterans do not participate in any of those activities, and the only farm work done is what is done at the greenhouse, and is accomplished by volunteers.

So what is the modern day purpose of the Home? For some guys in Nursing units, its a temporary stay until they stabilize after major medical, and then can go home and move in with family or be out on their own. 
For others, it is the last place they will ever live. It is their retirement home where they will spend the rest of their years. It should be enjoyable, or as enjoyable as we can make it.

For the Dom guys, that is a bit more complicated. Most of these people are guys that need "a time out", to get their lives back together. Many have hopes of returning to the community. A few however, are there by court order and like the retirees, are there until they move on to the next reality.
Some guys in Dom are there because of the economy, and would otherwise be living on the street. Some for economy and medical reasons, still others due to need for mental health care, or for drug or alcohol addictions. Oh and a common theme here, is you needed to be flat broke financially or be living below the poverty line to qualify to be able to be here.

Today the Dom unit is nothing more than a glorified flop house. Guys there get basic medical, (a doc comes in twice a week for sick call). They have a nurse on duty for about 16 hours, Monday thru Friday. Sometimes on Saturday.  No mental health help, no addiction help. Just a place to sleep, and what they call 3 meals, a day.  They get little if any help when it comes time for them to return to the community. In fact many don't even get that chance - they get discharged against their will, long before they are ready to return to the community.  I dare say they have a 5:2  "Kicked out" Verses  "Returning to community" ratio.  They are NOT helping these veterans. Even the medical care, after a veteran has returned from major surgery is substandard.

Although the VA clinic is currently located right next door to the home, the fact is, the Home and the Clinic do not cooperate very well with each other.  Both are on different computer systems, so the Homes computers cannot talk to the Clinic's computers, and of course the other way too.

Remember, this home is ran by the State of Michigan, but it depends on Federal tax dollars to support it, so we are told.  Seems to me they would be working closely with the Clinic.

There is also, a lock down unit, for veterans who are misbehaving, or need constant attention for the safety of themselves or others around them. This unit is called the Court Yard, and is considered by many vets at the home to be the homes version of Jail. The vets are in individual rooms, have individual care givers, and are locked into their unit 24/7 and not allowed out into general population, until such time as they earn the right, and then they are let out only for short periods of time; for example to go to a bingo, to step outside for a smoke break. In some cases, a care giver will bring out a few of them to go to a function, such as the member council meeting, or special function in the APR room.

There is a chapel for funerals, and a place for the guys to go to church on Sundays. There is a physical Therapy room, a Barbershop, and downstairs in the basement of one building, a 2 lane bowling alley that is run by volunteers. There is no gymnasium or pool area. Outside, south of the complex is a nature trail, and to the north is an area called the grotto, that was made for the veterans, but which gets more use by people from the outside coming in and having wedding photos taken there. The grotto is in the north west corner of the complex, between the location of the old Commanders house and cemetery, and the Rankin building. The Grotto is part of the drainage stream that comes from 2 lakes further up the stream, and it dumps into the Grand River, just north of the Cities "Riverside park". East of the grotto is the duck pond, and beyond that, a marshy area, where the stream comes in. Crossing the stream and providing an entrance into the Veterans Cemetery, is a bridge that was usable until this past year. Now it is in need of repair and replacement and traffic is no longer allowed on it. The duck pond is a fishing pond for the guys, where they hold 3 fishing tournaments each year.

Also outside, in a building near the main parking lot, is were the American Legion Auxiliary Poppy program is headquartered. And in that same building, is the The Train Club, and the Bike shop, where veterans can get bikes to ride in the summer. A few specialty bikes have been donated to the home last year. In the oldest building on the property, that dates from the civil war, which is the old train station, is the Bait shop and the clothing room, where guys can go to get donated clothing. Both are manned by volunteers and one or two helpers from the Dom unit.  Located between the 2 above buildings is another building that holds 2 restrooms (men and woman rest rooms). Also outside, over by the Maintenance building is the green house.

Just east of the Clothing room and Bike shop buildings is a wooded area separating the home from the VA clinic. It has a number of picnic tables, and a band stand, and one basketball hoop. Beyond that is the VA clinic.  It is a nice quiet area, for guys to go and relax.

About mid way between the 2nd and 3rd main buildings, are 3 public areas. Just to the north of them is the chapel, and then the Rankin building. Of the 3 public areas, 2 are inside. A big, "all purpose room" (APR room),  is where the home plays bingo, hosts meetings, and Guitars for Veterans class, and other things. next to that is a lounge area called Kozy corners" where members can go and get coffee, popcorn, and donated sweet goods, such as doughnuts, ice cream, and such. Also, some members participate with their doctors permission, in the beer club, and are allowed to get 2, "three two" beers. Members have to pay for this out of their own pockets, as no other alcohol is allowed on the property. But that has never stopped the guys from getting it from other locations. Just 1 block to the north and east of the complex are party stores which are frequented by a number of veterans.

Just outside Kozy corners is a covered area called the Pavilion. A big open space, with a roof over it, it is used for picnics, and bingo in the summer time. Also located just north east of this by about 100 feet, is the outside grill area, where there are 6 huge gas grills. In the summer time, volunteers come and cook burgers and hot dogs, and sometimes steaks for the veterans.

Both Nursing units and Dom units have group meetings with members of staffing called "member council meetings". Each has a President and vice President. The Nursing unit folks hold their meeting in the APR room, and Dom unit holds there meeting in either APR room or one of the Day rooms on their unit.

Issues about the Home, the administration, the main dining room (the one located near the main entrance), the meals, lack of a service officer for the veterans, lack of voice for the veterans (they need a real ombudsman, not one that sits on the board of managers and who is never around for the vets), and other issues have been brought up at these meetings.

In Dom unit, at the direction of Gary Davis, who is the representative of Disabled American Veterans, the guys in Dom started filing incident reports on yellow incident report sheets. 3 months later, after over 100 incidents, only about 4 percent were ever addressed to the satisfaction of the veterans. So they gave up trying. I am told by the guys in the Nursing unit member council that they got the same results as Dom did.

In July of 2013, It got so bad, that one member in Dom, got up and said, "this has become nothing more than a complaint session, and is a waste of time because the staff does not listen to us, nor addresses the issues we bring to the floor. We might as well be talking to a wall."  For August and September, the number of people attending Dom unit meetings was less than 10 veterans, and at the time there were nearly 150 people in the unit.

Lack of voice for the veterans is a BIG concern. And that is part of the health care the veterans need. A lot of stress is being created by this issue. Veterans believe that several of their friends were kicked out because of their activism in being a voice for those who are afraid of being kicked out of the home. Those that have no were else to go, sit in silent suffrage, because they are afraid of being kicked out for speak out or standing up. Either that or they get drugged up so that they cannot do anything, let along speak out. The guys see it as punishment for "making waves."  Indeed, one Dorm unit Counselor is on record at a Dom member council meeting,  for warning the Dom vets, that if they speak out and make the place look bad, "the person would
come to regret what they did." It was a direct threat to the veterans, many whom have faced death for this country. And yes I am talking about the one they call Dwight.

One of the reasons veterans in Dom get kicked out is because of drinking, and they drink in part because they are stressed out. No help is given to them. These guys need counseling and they are not getting it, so why have counselors assigned to them? What is the purpose of the counselors if not to help the veterans? This is wasted taxpayer money.

Another problem Nursing unit veterans face, is the Double teaming of Counselors and outside "guardians". What the people of Michigan don't know about the guardian laws, is that they have tried to overhaul those laws several times in the last decade, and they still need to be overhauled.  The guardian actually enslaves the veteran once the courts have issued the order to impose guardianship upon a veteran. Abuses by guardians go unchecked and the guardians and counselors are never held accountable. This is also a very big issue that the home refuses to acknowledge.

While in the military, veterans are taught that "when you are on duty, you are responsible for what happens in your area." In other words, if its your watch, you are the one that is responsible.  And since about July of 2010, that responsibility falls on Sara Dunn, current administrator, and the Government of Michigan who has allowed her to move from the head of the kitchens, to her current job as head Administrator.

Since the time she took over, the quality of life at the home, has steadily declined. Volunteers used to come in and hold bingos every day of the week, and sometimes twice a day. Many brought snacks of coffee and doughnuts or chips, cookies, Koolaid, and other things.. but due to one incident, all that was taken away from veterans.

Down in the basement of the southern most building is another activity center called the ITP room. This room used to be staffed and open 6 days a week. Now its lucky to be open 2.  Bingo's are down to about 3 a week, and its a rare treat for a group to bring in snacks and be able to issue them to the veterans.

Most activities have been on the decline. Several groups have been so alienated by the administration that they have stopped coming to the home.  Disabled American Veterans have all but left. Elks Club has stopped coming - and they used to donate a lot to the veterans. And that is just 2 of the groups that have stopped coming and donating. These people are the ones that made living at the home bearable. Now guys just sit around wasting time, waiting to die. Or in the case of the Dom unit guys, waiting for the economy to improve in hopes they will be able to work their way out of the place. 

Just read the pages of this blog for other concerns and things that have happened

Now recently I am told, (and have posted here) that they are now locking down the place at night. They are locking doors and windows. Guys who used to go out to the smoking tent area at night cannot do so anymore.

Yes that is another big issue. The home was supposed to get an exemption for the smoking law. See the posting on that. The fact of the matter is, the Home has a LOT of problems that are not being addressed by the current administration.

The reality check of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans exposes this basic fact: The changing of the care givers on the Nursing units is only the latest of a series of issues that have caused a lot of the veterans at the home to loose hope, and to end up feeling abused and imprisoned. And has lead to a sharp decline in the overall moral of the veterans.

Note: If any of this post is wrong, leave a comment so it can be corrected. Be sure to tell us the correction as well. 

Revised 9:30pm March 22nd.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jimm Dunn lies to the People of Michigan about the state of health care at the Veterans Home.

WOOD TV, in its continual coverage of the problem of the State of Michigan's Veterans home in Grand Rapids health care giver debacle, looks at getting answers about the complaints about the level of care giving at the Veterans Home.

In the video, Michigan Department of Veterans Affairs James Dunn says the home gives excellent health care to the veterans.  LAIR LAIR pants on fire!  Jim you know the home at best provides a minimum amount of healthcare, but its not good enough to be in the excellent quality bracket.

This is more than just a Union verses Non union worker debate. This is about how Michigan Taxpayers money is being spent, and to what result. It is more than just the health care workers from J2S, its about the entire administration of the home from the top down. It is about You Jim Dunn, it is about the board of managers, it is about veterans not having a voice in what is supposed to be their own home, and its about this administration evicting veterans who dare speak up and stand up for their rights and the rights of others.

This home should operate like any other retirement home, with the exception that its reserved for Veterans.
I can tell you this: it doesn't come close. In fact, now that you are locking the windows and doors at night, its become more like a prison than anything.  Is that what Michigan taxpayers are paying for?

Excellent health care? When the guys are not even informed of their medical appointments at the VA clinic, which is right next door to the home? Or they are told 2 days after the appointment that they had one. Is that your idea of excellent health care?

How about the reports of drugging up the veterans so they can't "make waves" or anything because staff doesn't want to have to deal with them? Great health care you say? How come Mac and I had to go to Spectrum health to get our post operative Physical therapy, when the home has a physical therapy room where the staff there told us they could have given us our needed therapy? Mac for his Heart, and me for my replaced knee.

This is more than just the Union care givers Verses the J2S care givers.. This is about the lack of leadership, poor administration, lack of respect being given to veterans by the administration, wasteful spending of Michigan tax dollars, and last, the out right theft, and fraud, imposed on the veterans by the Administration.

Jim Dunn, you need to stop lying about the REAL conditions at the Veterans home.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans; Is the egg finally cracking?

It would bring tears to my eyes to have this place fully investigated by members of the State congress, so that they can see what Michigan is getting for its tax money.

The fact is not only are donations misused, volunteers abused, and groups wanted to come in and help the veterans refused, the fact is the Homes use of State money, and accounting is just barely up to code.

Yes I am sure they can account for state funds, and show where they go.. but this is supposed to be more than just a place for guys to go and DIE. It is supposed to be their HOME. And right now its not much better than a prison for many.  

It cannot get much worse and the potential for improvement exists every second of every day, if only they had someone who would do the right thing and make it happen.
The fact is, right now you have 2 groups arguing over health care of the veterans.The union and the non union people. And this is just 1 of many big issues that the State and the Administration are not addressing properly.

If you want to find out about them, go talk to the veterans them selves. Don't ask administration, or union people, as their answers will be biased.

In the recent article on WOOD Tv Local channel 8,   State congressman Peter McGreggor is shown stating that he has an ombudsman bill in the state legislature, that would have been beneficial to the current situation.  Under McGreggor's plan, the ombudsman would not be associated with either the Administration, the Michigan Dept of Veteran Affairs, or anyone else and would only be answerable to the Congress or Governor. This Ombudsman would be completely neutral in matters.

As it stands now, one of the Board of Manager people serves as an ombudsman, but he is rarely at the home, so the veterans do not have access to him.

Another State Congress person is show stating that She thinks the congress may have to spend some money to investigate the home.  We can only hope.

Truly the best thing that can happen right now is for members of the Michigan Congress to come to the veterans home and talk to the veterans.. Just 10, to 20 of the Congressmen would be enough. 

Michigan Veterans deserve better. And Michigan taxpayers deserve to have their money spent more wisely and to get better results than what they have been getting.

Perhaps after the congress looks into this, they will want to look at some of the other issues too.

At a time when Michigan's Veteran system is under close scrutiny by Federal officials, it might be a good idea for the State to finally start addressing the issues that it has been ignoring for the last 3 years.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Poor Judgement, Hipocracy, or just plain lack of Professionalism?

When the Non profit group "Veterans for Justice" formed, by veterans who were living at the Grand Rapids home for Veterans, they inquired the staff if they could hold meetings at the home. Gary Davis, One of the staff members was asked and he checked with then Acting Chief Sara Dunn and the word was they could.

Then the group asked if they could post some fliers, showing the meeting times and such and again the answer was go ahead.

Well, apparently those notices had to be posted in specific areas. I.E the bulletin boards. But someone posted a few in non designated areas.

James Dunn , Chief of Staff, Michigan Dept of Veterans Affairs was seen recently taking down the fliers. He has not approached the Veterans for Justice group nor has he tried to communicate with them in any way.

I am also told, that a veteran member is now claiming he saw Sara Dunne, former director of the kitchens at Grand Rapids Home for veterans, now Chief Administrator, taking down a flier and ripping it up.

Ah..why rip up the fliers? Shouldn't the fliers be returned to the Veterans group with an explanation as to why they were removed?

To me, this shows either poor judgement, Hypocrisy,  and just plain poor professionalism.

This is not good, at a time when the home is under scrutiny by the state legislature due to the complaints about the new non union, non state employee, care givers provided to the home by the private company called J2S.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Who is removing Veterans for Justice flyers?

This just in.
  Got a call from one of the guys. Seems one of them saw a man in a 3 piece suit going around the home, taking down the flyers that were posted with the Veterans for Justice meeting times.

According to the caller, there were about 8 of them placed thru out the home, and this individual was seen taking them down.

This has raised concern with the membership of the non profit group, who reportedly has permission to exist and operate, from Gary Davis, the Disabled Veterans represenative who works at the home.

   More to come as information becomes available.