Thursday, May 28, 2015

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans War on Free Speech.

Well they did it. It has been a successful campaign. The Home silences voices for Veterans, (unless it is one of them) and obstructs free speech.

Historical evidence clearly shows an intentional attempt by the administration of the Michigan Veterans home at Grand Rapids, is involved in squashing free speech by its residents or any other out side influence from speaking up for the veterans within.

From targeting residents for discharge (removal) to targeting visitors. Anyone who has anything negative to say about the home or its administration, even if it is for the purpose of bringing attention to problems that need resolution (positive criticism) , the administration is actively attempting to silence that voice.

From Sara Dunne's claim that its HER job to talk to Congressional representatives, instead of letting veterans do so, to Jim Dunn of the Michigan Department of Veterans Affairs Agency, who said its his job to represent the veterans to the congress, the history is clear.

The fact that this home ordered a state congresswoman  (Winnie Brinks) whose district includes the home, OFF of the homes property should not surprise anyone.

The local media is in lock down about the home and refuses or fails to do any kind of story on the home or what is going on within the home, without the administrations approval. And any stories short of murder are quashed unless they reflect the home in a positive way.  Outside voices for the veterans and resident veterans themselves have gone to local media (WOOD TV8  and WZZM 13) with stories only to see them silenced. A video interview with one resident (at his request), who later died at the VA hospital in Battle Creek, was hand delivered to WZZM and it too got silenced.

What once used to be a real HOME for veterans has become a glorified prison for many of the remaining residents. Members as they are called, even though the home is classified as a "hospital" and ran quasi like one. It has become a place for veterans to die, more than an actual home where people do things like live and enjoy life.  Residents are afraid to speak up for fear of being targets for expulsion from the home. And for many of them, it is the only place they have other than the streets.

Residents have witnessed what they believe is the homes targeting residents who "speak up" and who 'are not afraid to say whats on their minds", only to see those residents discharged, "kicked out" of the home shortly after they become vocal.   Other residents are told to "shut up" when they try to bring up issues. I am told this happened most recently to a veteran of the Dorm Unit, who spoke up about proper licensing on a hunting trip.

The homes residents "member counsel" has become nothing more than a glorified bitch session, with the residents whining about trivial matters and the administration ignoring them, while talking DOWN to them about various things.

Dorm unit member counsel meeting was eliminated because Dorm residents stop going to it. They got tired of being talked down to by the administration who refused to listen to what they were saying to the administration. Ideas on how to improve things and how to deal with problems fell on deaf ears (so the residents felt). Now there is just one resident counsel meeting that covers both nursing units and Dorm unit, and recently a member from the Dorm unit was kicked out of that meeting because he was trying to discuss a serious problem at the home.

Long time volunteers and advocates for veterans from the DAV (Disabled American Veterans), VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and others have been banned from the property after years of volunteering at the home.

Several residents, volunteers and visitors who go to the home on a regular basis have told me that they believe the only reason Greg M is not allowed to visit resident friends is because the board of managers believes he is directly connected to this blog and this is their attempt to silence him. The residents say that they think that the board seems to believe that if he cannot go on the property he cannot report what is really going on there.  They are wrong. Joe and I get reports form over 40 people. Residents, volunteers, visitors, and even a few employees contact us monthly to keep us informed as to whats going on there. I can and do visit once in a while when I have time and I see things going on that are just unbelievable and unacceptable behavior from the administration. Joe was there last week and says the place should be shut down and the veterans allowed to go to private sector care places.

Pro veteran members of Michigan Congress say they are being stopped by the Executive branch, and Governor Rick Snyders' people. Many have tried to intervene on behalf of veterans only to be shut down.

The Governors people, the board of managers and the homes administration doesn't want the public to know about any of this for their own self interest reasons. And that is why this blog and its Facebook page exists.

This is a criminal act by those who are employed by the state to act in the interest of the public trust to care for our veterans. And they need to be held accountable and REMOVED and where applicable, prosecuted.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

No room for homeless veterans at Vets home > News 8 Did we ‘end homelessness in 10 years’?

Wood TV 8 did an article about the Homless in Grand Rapids.

On their website, one of our veterans left this comment:

Well, we have a VETERANS home what ONCE was built to house the veterans that were found in poor houses after the civil war.

Now today, they have a dorm unit on 2 floors of one building with the capability of housing about 200 guys and they have 42 residents because that RINO Rick Snyder doesn't want to fund the trust fund that pays the 2100.00+ a month the home charges to have a veteran in the DORM unit. There is no mental health counseling available to them, no substance abuse counseling to them. Its become a glorified flophouse for the chosen few.

The administration of the place is a political joke.  Sara Dunne the current top administrator's last job was running the kitchens, and one of the homes doctors for the nursing units was issuing medication for which he had no license to do so for over 4 years. Some say it resulted in the deaths of several veterans from overdosing.

And the 4th floor of one building was shut down for "renovations" 3 years ago and still has not yet been completed and probably won't be in my life time the way that place is being run.. The homes population now is about 425, it used to be over 750

Under the new political rules, there is no room for the homeless veterans at our vets home because it costs the state too much money. 

Lotta the homeless in GR are Veterans..

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Board of Managers meeting report: Refusals, Threats, and Amatures at best?

I got a call from Greg M who told me about his recent trip to Traverse City and attending the board of managers meeting there.

Michigan Veterans Home, Board of Managers Meeting, March 14, 2015 held at the American Legion post 35, Traverse City, Michigan at 1pm Eastern Standard Daylight savings time.

Greg rode up with Kim O. a well known volunteer at the home and one other person named Catherine. After talking with Greg, I contacted both and heard about their views of the meeting as well.

Greg has family in T.C. and rode along with Kim and Catherine, because "it got me out of the house for a day, and I know the area well".  Apparently before and after the meeting they drove around TC and stopped in a few of the areas unique shops and had lunch at a place called Ham Bonz.

Greg said he went to the meeting to find out more about how the home operates from an administrative point of view. "Ive been to a few of these meetings now, and the more I go, the more I find myself standing up for the administration of the home, when talking to the vets who constantly complain to me about the situation at the home. The administration is limited as to what it can do, and the biggest part of this is funding from Lansing and the almost asinine hoops they  (the home) has to jump through to get funding for needed projects. Projects that will bring the home into the 21st century as I call it. Michigans vets home is way way behind other states. And they are trying to catch up. But when various departments in Michigan government are stalling making decisions, needed projects at the home are not getting done. Sara (Dunne, the head administrator) said that some of the funding has time limits to it. And if the various agencies of Michigan government do not make up their minds in time, the home can no longer access the funds because the time to do so expires.  In other words, they (the home) has to deal with endless bureaucracy also. I think the guys at the home need to hear this. They need to know why the home can't get anything done, (because of Lansing). You know the lack of leadership at the home is amazing - they could get these guys to write letters to their congressman asking, for help for the veterans home.

Greg also told me about another interesting thing that was brought up at the meeting.  The road bridge over the duck pond linking the cemetery to the main grounds. That bridge is in poor condition and needs to be rebuilt. (We knew this.) But because its on home property it is not a public road and therefore the responsibility of the home. This may seem kind of stupid to most people; as the state is responsible for the home and most pubic roads that are not federal. It can be repaired and used as a foot bridge but to allow cars to go over it will require rebuilding.

"Someone said that 35k was donated so that every veteran there can have a wall mounted TV. "  Mmm. Haven't we had that donation before? Time and time again providing TV's to veterans? Where did all that money really go? And why is the 4th floor STILL unfinished???

"They talked about Michigan still struggles with veterans who have mental issues, because the Fed says its the VA's responsibility, not the States. Yet the Home is supposed to have a licensed Psychiatrist or someone psychologist on staff, if I remember correctly. I know there wasn't one when I lived there. I could have used some counseling, but even the one I had, didn't do squat.

"Kim O. got them talking about recent claims about missing Absentee ballots, the usual mail problems were brought up again. Sara said if they came in the mail the guys got them. She also said a lot of the guys go down to the voting place at the Boat and Canoe club.  Sara had no idea that the polling place which used to be at the boat and canoe club, located at the NW corner of  North Park and Monroe, had been changed to a local elementary school a few years ago.

 "Again a mail room idea was brought up, and again she said they had no room.. But they found room for a small NicNack store, and they found room for a barbershop. Yet no room for a mail room?!  I see this as just another excuse or a refusal to deal with the situation. 
"At one time they talked about the cafeteria problem and I get the feeling that the home is NOT going to get the license so that they can sell meals to visitors in the main dining hall."

LOL, Well of course that is going to anger a lot of family members come holiday time at the end of the year, but thats ok..we need angered family members, so that they will call for the removal of this administration.  -ED
"The homes problem with meals has been an on going issue for over 5 years. With some Nursing unit guys eating 3 times per meal. Then the staff complains about it to the residents, but does nothing about it nor implements any of the suggestions made by residents.  Thats one of the things that just angered the heck out of us in Dom unit, when I was there. The staff would complain to us, but would not listen to any of our solutions. So we got tired of hearing them bitch all the time at the meetings so we just stopped going to them.

"At one time the Chairman mentioned that he had something for me, the boards decision from my March appearance, where I asked to be able to go and visit guys during regular hours; basically for a 2nd chance.. I did NOT want to apply to live at the home. I never will ever again.   I asked what I needed to do to make this happen. Well, the board made its decision, and said NO, that I would only be welcomed (allowed) to go to Guitars 4 Veterans), and never addressed anything else.  When I asked the chairman why, he could not give me an answer.

"The board also discussed its 25 and 35 year mission statements.. Did I hear that right, 25 and 30 or 35 year? Do they even HAVE a mission statement? If so what is the current mission of the DORM unit? And the home for that matter seeing how things are changing so dead slow at the home.

"They said they are looking at other veterans homes in other states. If so they should feel ashamed by what they see. Most states vets homes are way better than this place,

"The new chairman says the board needs to have more meetings and be a "do something" board and not just meet once a month.. Thats good talk, but getting it done is another thing..

"Meanwhile Earnest Meyers claimed the driveway area needed fixing and is demanding it be done soon.

"Then the board chairman did a round about asking for final comments for the meeting. I wasn't going to speak up but I did asking why the decision to keep me off campus? He said he had no idea.and could not give me an answer. " ( More on this at next post). I didn't go to this meeting to address my issue. I had forgotten about it to be truthful. I came because I was interested in what they were going to say about the so called missing absentee ballots and the cafeteria issue. "

"Then there was the incident with Lino Pretto, the goatee wearing member of the board. 

"When Pretto saw Cathrine sitting and waiting for the meeting to start, he walked up to her and in a voice that was not nice said he had to have a talk with her after the meeting.

"Apparently Cartherine sent a letter to someone, and since she did not know Pretto personally described him as a man claiming to be a veteran, and purple heart winner or something like that.  Which is my understanding that he is a Nam vet, wounded in battle, and has a purple heart. But she did not know that for sure.

"Well, it seems Pretto got a bit angry about it, and took it the wrong way. He accusing her of claiming that he was steeling valor or some stupid stuff like that, which she did not do in her letter, so she told me.

"Pretto walked up to her after the meeting with 3 cards showing his status as a Nam Vet, and Purple heart winner, and in an angry voice threatened her stating that if she ever questioned his status again, they would have more words and indicated they would be a lot worse than the ones he used there.

"This was totally unprofessional. Pretto is earning a reputation of being a hot headed asshole to many people. Several vets at the home have talked with him since he became a board member and they tell me hes too hot headed and they do not want to talk to him ever again.

"Personally I think Pretto owes Cathrine an apology.

"Shortly after that, we left and went mushroom hunting on the way home.

"On the way home we discussed many issues. We talked about my issue and I will be giving you guys (the editors of this blog) a written article for you to publish soon, I need time to get it together.

"Cathrine who worked in advertising and went to many meetings and board meetings, said the managers for the vets home looked and acted like amateurs and doubts any of them really know what they are doing.  She said that she thinks the current chairman is a business man, maybe an owner, that is trying to make the managers group more productive but she is going to wait and see if its even possible.

"The board is still 2 new people shy, I think..

"Kim talked about the mail issues, the cafeteria issues and how that is going to effect staff, visitors, family members and volunteers like herself and her hubby John, both of whom put a lot of hours into that place. 

It was a good trip overall. Didn't find any mushrooms, we just missed them.. oh well. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Old issues still NOT addressed by Administration.

This is an update to the list of issues not addressed by the administration of the home. The original post of June 12, 2012, listed about 12 issues. These 2 have once again come to light due to occurrences at the home. Updates appear under each.

Mail tampering, no mail system is existent, no safe guards in place.    All Members mail is opened by the staff, because most of us signed a statement allowing them to open it for purposes of doing the payment paperwork. That is to take care of the paperwork dealing with Social Security or our pensions, and such.    However, this privilege has been abused by the people who open the mail - and we have found out that many are volunteers - strangers opening our mail. And things we need to get are not getting to us.  This is NOT a valid "home" mailing address, but is listed as a business - yet for veterans it IS our home, and our address.. US Post office does not deliver mail here - it is picked up at the post office by one of the grounds workers who then transports it from the GR Post office to the home.  We need a post office, for the home, like the ones in the military. Where people ARE  held accountable for the mail they handle..

 Update: There is now an issue about veterans not getting their absentee ballots. This is a direct violation of their right to Vote, and also is an example why the home needs to have its Resident Mail procedures re-written and new procedures put in place with accountability clauses added.

 Kitchen and Dining, The food is a threat to the health of veterans. Meals served cold, Under cooked food, poor variety of available choices. Too many empty calories and carbohydrates. This has been an ongoing issue for over 2 years now. The food here is actually a health risk for many veterans. And we are tired of talking to the Staff who refuse to do anything about it. Many veterans scam the home by eating 2 and 3 meals at each meal setting by eating a meal on their units, then go down to the main dining hall and eating 2 meals there.  All units have dining areas in their units except for the Dorm unit, which must use the main dining hall for their meals.

Update: The home is no longer (as of June 1st 2015) allowing staff, volunteers, visitors or guests to purchase a meal from the homes main cafeteria,  where residents from the Dorm unit eat their meals. This practice has been a violation of law for several years, but was overlooked and allowed to continue by inspectors. Now the law is being enforced. The home can apply for a low cost needed license to do so, but may not due to poor management of the cafeteria and food budgets. Visitors, and guests will have to bring their own meals, or go elsewhere to eat. Staff and volunteers will have to bring their own or again, go else where. But currently there is no where for some of these people to store their lunches, or meals, until they are needed, other than in their car - if they bring a car to the home. For those who ride the bus, their choices will be extremely limited.

Also mice have been seen running around the dining area while residents were eating meals. Not a good thing for the home.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Closed Dining hall at the Veterans home?

I got 4 calls this evening asking about a nasty rumor that is going on at the home. 2 were from residents at the home.

Rumor has it that as of 1 June 2015, the main dining hall, located just south of the main entrance to the veterans home, will become a closed dining hall as of 1 June 2015, available ONLY to residents of the home.

Currently Staff members, Volunteers who work long shifts that qualify, veteran's family members and visitors, and Visitors to the home are able to purchase a meal. They do this by entering the dining hall and purchase a number of meal tokens from one of 2 machines available there. Then they go through the "chow line" and pay for their meal with the tokens.

1 person told me that the homes kitchen license does not cover the general public. And that since these people are not members, they are considered to be the general public. Therefore they will not be allowed to purchase meals after 31 May 2015.

THIS is not a good idea. And if implemented, a call to our state legislatures to take action will be required.

Many family members drive long distances to visit veterans. Some ladies who are married to vets, come to the home and spend all day with their husbands, paying for meals. If they are forced to have to either "brown bag it" or leave campus to go find meals, this will make things very difficult for some, and all but impossible for others who rely on public transportation to get to and from the home.

Also, volunteers might end up not wanting to spend long hours at the home, unless secure food storage space is made available.

Enforcing a policy of a closed dining facility will only create more problems for the home, rather than solve any.

Update: We have learned that the Veterans home was NOT supposed to be able to sell meals to non residents. This has been a law for a long time that was overlooked. It is now being enforced.
However, the home has had a budget problem with meals. And its hard to calculate how much food and stuff will be required for non residents who sometimes, not always, eat at the homes dining facilities.

Part of this problem is the on going issue with how the main dining hall is ran, and how some veterans manage to eat 2 or 3 meals at each meal time. This has been an issue for several years, with suggestions on how to fix it offered by residents, ignored by the staff.

The home can once again, offer meals to visitors, guests and staff if it apples for a proper license, which they are discussing and may not do.

Update: Don't think the home is willing to get the license to be able to sell meals. So when family members come for the holidays, they will have to brown bag it. 

Is there a Dr Mengele at the Michigan Veterans home?

I've kept my big mouth shut, sitting there listening to reports and rumors. Watching things happen and pondering the evidence that was being put in front of me.

I will not name names here. But any informed individual will come to the proper conclusion as to whom I am writing about.

There are many problems with the current administration at the Michigan Veterans Home in Grand Rapids. Ever since the last top Administer left,  people have said that choosing the person who at the time was head of the kitchens to replace him, was not a good idea. Even with the fact that she was not qualified at the time and had to go back to school to get proper accreditation to be able to even APPLY for the job.

She has been in charge, more or less since Mid 2010. Everything that this blog has reported about has happened under her "watch".

The latest scandal is about a Medical doctor who went unlicensed for a number of years while prescribing heavily controlled psychotic drugs to veterans, many of whom are believed by outsiders and family members to have died from over doses of those medications.

We have reported this to local news media, Local Health officials, Michigan government agencies and its all getting swept under the rug, as if nothing has happened.

What is going on here?? 

1 Doctor overseeing Thousands of Veterans mental health care?

Got a call today. Someone told me there is 1 doctor overseeing all the psychiatric decisions for all the veterans in west Michigan.

Some service, as the one the Vets home is using.  The chain of command consists of 1 licensed doctor, and a ton of Nurses, Nurse practitioners, and Physicians Assistants, who make reports. The doc reads the report and approves medication recommendations made by the Nurses, NP's and PA's. Many medications are the kind that are highly controlled.

This gives cause to wonder if many of our veterans are being misdiagnosed, and or over drugged.
 Relying on less qualified people to provide information to 1 doctor, who should be seeing these men, is not a good idea nor medical practice.. we need solid evidence of this..