Thursday, July 25, 2013

Returning veteran refused admittance to veterans home due to past advocacy of veterans rights.

What is the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans becoming? Is it a home for veterans or is it something else?  It used to house over 750 men and women, but lately the numbers are more like 450 or less.

Nursing units have about 350 with another 58 in Dorm unit.  People being allowed admission are dwindling while applications are increasing.

And there is now clear evidence of  prejudice in selecting people who are to be given admittance. Of the 450 members or so, only about 15 are women, and less than 5 are veterans. Only one Black female veteran is in Dorm unit, the other 2 women are elderly ladies that were wives of veterans. and I believe this 1 female is also the only black female veteran in the entire facility.  There are a number of black men veterans, but I am told they too were refused admittance, up until about 1987.

When I got to the home in the fall of 2010, there were 3 Native Americans in the dorm unit. Now there are none and one is trying to return, but being given a hard time. This may be due to who he is, and what he did while he was there.

Let me introduce you to George Merrit. A native American who was the Dorm unit Council president for over 1 and half years, and an advocate for the rights of the veterans. He helped many veterans improve their lives, by going back to school. Many left the home and continued their lives. Still others were returned to family member care. All are better off now than at the home.

George spent many an hour in front of the then ACTING head administrator Sara Dunn, arguing for veterans rights. At the time Sara Dunn was not officially the states chosen director for the home but was a temporary administer after the last one, Frank Sanarski retired due to medical issues. Later the state gave her the top position and gave her the job permanently.

George left the home quite suddenly. Not because he got kicked out, but because he was given a job opportunity outside the home that he could not refuse. So he left.

Recently the job situation radicaly changed. The contractor George was working for as a subcontractor left George with no contract, no work, and no money. So George had no place left to go but back to the Grand Rapids home for veterans dorm unit.

He has been applying all week long, and is getting the run around. Today he was told that a new admittance guideline set of rules were imposed by some government level, that says that returning people have to be in worse condition than when they left.  Yet no veteran was informed of this new requirement, nor was George told this when he started the admittance process on Monday.

George spent his last gas in his car to get to the home, and for the last 3 days has depended upon other people to give him a place to sleep, and to feed him.  The man has nothing, yet the home will not admit him. Isn't that what the Dorm unit exists for?

George is a witness to many of the items talked about in this blog, and he has evidence and experience and a history of success fighting for veterans rights against this administration, maybe that's why they do not want to admit him.

George says he wants to return to have a place to sleep, and to learn how to play guitar, (via the Guitars for Vets class, held Wednesdays in the APR room). He does not want to return to the politics of the home and will not be getting involved in other peoples cases. And as soon as he finds work again, he would be leaving again.

This coming weekend is the summer carnival held for the benefit of the veterans at the home. And Sara Dunn has been on vacation or missing from her office all week. Gary Davis apparently has been dragging his heals, when it comes to getting approval for George to return to the home.

Apparently there are currently only 58 people in Dorm unit - half of the available space, if you keep it to 4 man room. As such the home should be laying off some of its Dorm unit support staff, as they are no longer needed. May be if they are afraid if they let George in, he will force that issue and the result will be staff members laid off who are about to retire.

Either way, the question of why they are refusing this man access, when it is clear they have room, and really have no proper reason to say no to his admittance, needs to be answered.

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