Thursday, September 12, 2013

Board of Directors flexes its muscles on Navy Veteran, targeted and denied any due process prior to discharge

12 Sept 2013.   Updated 2 Oct 2013.
On his second appeal to the Board of Directors of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, The Board has decided to table their decision until the next meeting, in part because the Veteran took advice from a lawyer and continued to go to Guitars 4 Veterans, after receiving a letter from the Board of Directors Chair person to not go on the property until after his hearing. Greg M. has received unfair treatment by the Administration of the home and now to add Salt to the wound the Board of Managers is flexing its muscles, with the Chairman of the board Earnest Meyers saying "we run the home, not a lawyer", and we run it on behalf of the people of Michigan, the congress and the governor". (The governor recently vetoed the bill that would have given the veterans an independent ombudsman to help them with cases just like Greg's.).

What Earnest Meyers Chairman of the board seems to have forgotten, is that Greg M. is no longer a member of the veterans home. He is not under their care, and is an adult, subject to the same laws as Earnest Meyers or any other adult visitor who comes to the home; - And Greg has violated no law. There does not exist a no trespass order on Greg. Therefore by the state law, he CAN go on the property to visit friends or do whatever, as long has he does not violate the state laws.  AND THIS is exactly what this secondary fiasco is about.  The first is about denial of due process and the targeting of a veteran for removal from the home by the incompetent administration. 

Let let me tell you about Greg M. Greg M came to the home in October of 2010 after being evicted from a family members home. His sister told him to leave because she felt he would not get the medical treatment he needed unless he was homeless. He was collecting Unemployment compensation at the time, but had to give that up when he became a member at the Veterans home in Grand Rapids.  During his entire stay at the home, the Veterans home was in violation of Federal law, requiring the home to have a licensed physiologist on staff.  They had NONE. Nor was any kind of counseling available to any of the veterans in the dorm unit.

At the time he suspected but was not sure, that he had severe heart problems. A previous heart attack that occurred in 2002 went improperly diagnosed until 2011 by the VA hospital Cardiology staff.

During his stay at the home in 2011, on recommendation by Doctor Edgar, Greg underwent cardiac testing at the VA hospital in Ann Arbor, and in July of 2011, went in for a triple heart bypass operation but came out with a quadruple heart bypass. He was on the operating table for 11 hours, and spent 12 days in intensive care afterwards before returning to his bed in a room he shared with another man, in the Dorm Unit on Rankin 3. (Rankin is the name of the building the unit is housed in.)

He applied for social Security disability in November of 2010, claiming it started in June of 2010 but the fact is it started much earlier than that. Then in July of 2012, on an administrative appeal, he won his case and was declared to be 100 percent disabled by the Federal Social Security program.

In September of 2012 is when he was targeted for removal of the home.  Dwight Fergason, (Spelling?  and henceforth DF), went up to him in early September after he had obtained his Disability payments and asked him if he was ready to move out. Greg told him no, he needed another year to finish healing up from the operation.

Greg tells me that it was at this point in time he should have seen that something was up. Yet he failed to see it.

Now since his return from the VA hospital, Greg has had several post operative issues including post operative pneumonia, an on going issue with edema in his legs, and his weight issue. Greg started out at 220 lbs before the heart problems became serious and ballooned to 400+.

In September of 2012, Security person Josh started putting up notices about the home enforcing the winter parking rules for Residents and staff members. Members were to park in designated areas in the parking lot behind the home, not in parking places located on the front side of the building, including those by the Ranking building which are used for visitors for the chapel.

Well, the security people started putting the flyers on all the cars on the property. Well that is, MOST of them. 2 guys got towing citations. One got a towing citation because his truck was parked in the back lot, and had not ran in 4 years. So he had to remove it. The other one was Greg M. His car was parked out front in the Chapel Entrance area.

Take note of 2 things. The Graphic showing a car being towed away and the Note 1, which states after the first notice is given, a car can be then ticketed again and towed without prior notice.

THIS is what set Greg off. Why was he the only one when there were others Veteran members who had their cars parked in the chapel parking area?  

Greg took the homes action to be an indication that they intended to have his car towed, despite their knowledge that it belonged to a veteran (it has a veteran license plate and the Home's ID number on the rear view mirror), who lived at the home.

 A Veteran in the Dorm unit is considered to be homeless and in one of 2 categories - Non income and income. The Cost of Care  (that is the cost paid to house, feed and care) for a non-income person is split between The Federal VA and the Michigans trust for veterans.  These people get 5 dollars a week to use for personal needs.

A Veteran in the Dorm unit with income gives up all the income except 100 dollars if they cannot cover the monthly cost of care. If they can cover the cost of care, they are allowed to keep all funds over their cost of care minus 100 dollars.

Cost of car varies from Veteran to Veteran.

Cost of care is accrued, that is, it is all adds up and if the Veteran ever comes into a large sum of money via inheritance,  settlement of any kind of a claim, or wins the big state lottery, the state can collect that accrued cost of care amount from the Veteran. Some of these guys now owe over 70 thousand dollars.

Well, The cost of getting a car out of impound is way more than the 100 dollars a month the home allows an income person to have. A veteran would have to beg to borrow money to get their vehicle returned or to go to court and be without it while due process took place.  That just isn't right.

Well in Greg's case, that is the way he saw it.  Why would they target just his car with a citation threatening to have his car towed away when they knew it belonged to a veteran member? Each veteran member who has a vehicle at the home, must have it registered with the home, it must be in working order and properly plated and insured AND must have a GRHforV home number tag on the front side of the rear view mirror. All of which he had.

He got angry and due to his physical limitations, wrote "the first person to have my car towed will be the first one to go to the hospital to have their head reattached." And that is what got him kicked out of the home. Instead of yelling it at the top of his lungs directly at a person, he just wrote it down.

Up until this incident, he had a perfect record with no disciplinary action being taken against him in the 23 months he had been at the home. At the time of the incident, he was 388lbs and could not run more than 30 feet without needing a rest. At times he had a hard time walking from the dorm unit to the main dining room, some 400 feet south, in the McKleish building by the main entrance. He couldn't have carried out his threat if he wanted to. But the administration never took that into consideration because they wanted him out for some unknown reason.

The member handbook says a member is to be given a warning, then a written warning, then 3 days out then 5, then 10 then dismissed.

Greg got 2 seconds worth of warning. The administration told him at his first meeting about the incident that he was being dishonorably discharged.

The night before his dismissal on the 9th of October 2012, DF came to his room and told him he had a meeting with the Top Administrator in the morning at 8:30am.  He went to the meeting and was informed he was being dishonorably discharged. No warning, no days out, nothing.

By their own admittance from their own paperwork, both Security person Josh and head of security department  Gerald both wrote that someone needed to sit down and talk with him. It was never done.
The decision to discharge him was made on the 5th of October 2012 and he was officially notified on 10 Oct 2012, 5 days later,  exactly 2 years to the date he had come to the Veterans home. This reeks of conspiracy and a clear intention to deprive him of his rights to civil due process and his right to be heard before being discharged.

The fact is, this incident should have been dealt with and forgotten 2 weeks later. But no. The home decided to make a mountain out of a mole hill. They must see Greg as a major threat to them. Maybe because of this Blog. But they cannot admit to that.

Other Veterans have put their hands on other veterans, choked them, hit them, destroyed both state and private property all without being permanently discharged. Many got warnings, 3,5 and 10 days out. Not Greg, he didn't lay a finger on anyone, or destroy anything. A clear double standard exists at the home. And the Board of Directors acts as if it doesn't know about it.

In November of 2012, Greg Appealed to the Board of Directors. They totally ignored the fact that he was denied all rights to due process. They required him to seek counseling, (which he should have gotten at the home but could not), and he got it at the VA Clinic located next door.

In June of 2013, Greg Submitted his second appeal, and was refused access to the Board of Directors meeting that month.  At this time Greg started going back to the Veterans home to visit friends and to participate in Guitars 4 veterans, which is part of his therapy.

Then he got a letter from Board Chairman Earnest Meyers telling him to stay off the property until he appeared before the board. On his lawyers advice, he continued to go to Guitars for Vets.

Today, 12 Sept 2013, The board met and Greg presented his case, which was tabled. The only issue they addressed was that he had continued to return to the home despite getting the letter from Earnest Meyer. No other part of his claim was addressed. This reeks of someone who is power hungry.

Even after witnesses testified to Greg's positive character, and the double standard being applied, Earnest Meyer only had his mental capacity focused on one fact, and he made it very clear that the board of directors runs the home, not a lawyer from the out side.

So Not only does the Board of Directors know that Greg's rights were violated, now it is clear that they have refused to address that wrong doing done to Greg. Greg already admitted his mistake, expressed his concern over the issue, his regrets over the issue, and yet the administration and the board of directors are still messing with him, abusing him over an incident that normally would have been over with and forgotten 24 hours after it happened.

I guess if the board of directors run the home then they too, are party to and responsible for the out right denial of due process for Greg, right?

If they run the home, then they are the ones responsible for shutting down the 4th floor in the McLeish building (even though they claim they knew nothing about it). 

If they run the home, they are party and responsible for the death of Veteran Andy Ball, who died at the hands of another Veteran member at the home.

If they truly run the home, then they are guilty of denial of Greg's basic civil rights, which can open them up to a lawsuit for violating Greg's civil rights.

If they truly run the Home, they need to be investigated for criminal actions, imposed on other former members who also got discharged without due process.

I personally know of 3 other veterans that would love to sue the home and the board on this very issue if they could just find a lawyer willing to do it.

Greg feels he has been abused by both the administration and the board of directors.

Greg wonders when someone is going to grow a pair of nads and finally admit the administration did him wrong, and reverse the decision. But no one there is willing to let this thing go. 

Earnest Meyers's attitude is one of ownership.  He thinks hes some kind of King, some kind of ultimate ruler. He is power drunk.  And its not just him.

While many of the veterans at the home have College degrees, some with masters, the administration and staff and now it appears the Board of Directors treats these people as if they are chattel, are property, are dummies that are too stupid to be allowed to do anything unless they ok it.

This is why so many veterans at the home now think they are in prison. Real prisoners would have had a riot long ago about these conditions. But veterans who respect the law,  cannot find it in themselves to violate the very thing they swore to protect. And that is what makes it very stressful and frustrating for them.

As the one state senator said, during one of his visits, that he was amazed none of the guys have gone postal yet. Well, the time is coming when I fear someone will do just that unless major changes are made and quickly.

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