Monday, May 13, 2013

State Audit:The report is in; The question now is what to do about it.

Well, as many of us knew, the States audit of the Veterans Home in Grand Rapids, came out, and it was not very flattering of the administration of the home.

Many folks are mistaken in their belief that this is a Federal Facility. It is not. It is a State Facility ran by the State of Michigan. It has changed over the years, but its basic function remains the same: A place for veterans to call Home, and a place for wounded veterans to heal up before returning to society if they can.

The audit gave the home a passing grade of C, or Average. That is not good enough. These are veterans, many combat veterans who have paid a price for their service. Both phases of the American military system are present: Those who participated in the military during the time of the Draft, and those who came afterwards who participated in the All Volunteer Military which as been the standard since 1973.

The biggest issue is accounting. This covers a wide range of subjects. Also covered by the report were the quality of food served, and the veterans being given access to information and benefits they required to be given, and in some cases are entitled to, via the Federal Veterans Administration.

Lets start with accounting.
Every dollar that comes in to the home, should be accounted for. Every dollar spend, accounted for. The home should be able to show where and how much money came in from what source, and where it was eventually used or spent.

From Donations, to payments from the Michigan Solders fund, to payments from Veterans disability pensions, any money that comes in should be accounted and shown where it came from and where it went.

And each veteran or member at the home should get at least, a  bi monthly, or (due to cost effectiveness) quarterly statements showing how much they paid, (or their pension paid), how much was charged to them, and where any other funds came from that were used to pay for part of their room and board, or health care. Also, within 15 days of their arrival, they (or their guardian) should be given a complete copy of the contract they signed when they applied. And copies of any other agreements where they had to sign their signature.

Any money coming in from the State to pay for the "payroll" of workers, needs to be accounted for. 
Job titles of all state workers, their job descriptions telling us what they actually do, and their pay scales needs to be publicized so that the taxpayers of Michigan can see what they are being charged.

Any money coming in for donations, needs to be accounted for.  Use of a "general fund" needs to be eliminated and money specifically earmarked for usage for specific needs, needs to be imposed.

Too many times in the last few years, donations meant for veterans were taken by staff members. This practice must stop. Understand staff members that work during holidays and special events will participate in those events (such as cook outs), and the veterans have no objections to them eating with us. But we do object to having donations made to the veterans, being used to provide for staff only functions.

And when Carhart winter jackets were donated for the the DOM unit, and the guys in Dom never saw them, this is not good. Nor the taking of the Brans Gift cards, or the Meijer gift cards that were donated for specific purposes but ended up being used for other things.

There needs to be an inventory done of all storage areas where donations and/or supplies are stored so that the home knows what it has on hand NOW. I know for a fact that during my stay at the Home, the Dorm unit had a closet where about 20, 12 inch yard balls (deflated) were stored and never used nor made available to members. IF things are donated, they need to get to veterans, not shoved into a closet and forgotten.

A better accounting of donated clothing, to be matched up with a list of needs, should be done. Lots of people are donating clothing the home does not need. By making a list available of what it does need, perhaps the home then can start obtaining items needed, and which will be used, instead of seeing the same stuff in the clothing room shelves for years on end.

And those are just a few accounting suggestions.. More later.

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