Sunday, October 11, 2015

Abuse and Punishment at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

Just definition of abuse, or punishment do we apply when it comes to caring for our veterans?

Punishment itself can be a form of abuse.  While everyone would agree that sometimes a person needs to face punishment for wrong doings, you must also take into account where these action are taking place: at a state ran institution that tells its residents that it is a hospital, whose name says its a "home" for "veterans". All of which is misleading.

Not only is this location a place for veterans, several family members (wives) of Veteran also are in residence here. Two of these ladies are currently living in the Dorm unit. Both are treated with high levels of respect by the younger veterans who live there.

The administration also calls this a Hospital, due to the fact that there are full time nurses at work. And other professionals that help with the healing of people, both physical and in a very very limited way, the mental aspects.

The main focus of this institution was for veterans. And veterans are different from ordinary people, due to their experiences. Military life is hard, even in peace time. And it can leave unseen scars on a person for years afterwards.  Military people tend to react differently than most folks, to common situations. This is why this place is special. Every vet is a special needs person due to their service.

We are going to focus on the Veterans. Some times these guys get out of line so to say and need to be reprimanded. They need to face punishment for what they have done.  For Jim Dunn (deputy director of MVAA) to say veterans are not punished is an out right lie and proves he is ignorant of what goes on at the Home.

For guys in the Dorm unit, proper punishment can be a written warning, or days off. Meaning they are kicked out of the home for 24 hours, 2 days, 3 days, 5 days and 7 days. As "independent living" people, capable of taking care of themselves and not needing nursing or care giving, this kind of punishment serves to remind them that it is a privilege to live at the home. And that doing so means they have to live by the rules of the home or face permanent discharge. Before permanent discharge a veteran usually gets a few chances to correct their behavior with the warnings and lesser "time out" days.

However, some do not get that luxury and are discharged on their first offense.  

Never mind the rules written in the "members hand book". The past administration never did follow those rules, and a double standard has been policy for the last 5 years.  THIS is seen by many as ABUSE of Veterans who are used to a strict chain of command and strict adherence to the established rules by everyone in that chain of command.

For the nursing units, punishment can be a number of things. Disallowing the veteran to go to the clothing room to get even more clothing (when they don't need any more), would be an acceptable punishment. We do have veterans with hording issues. A guy in Dorm unit used to horde junk mail which became a fire hazard. He was punished by permanent discharge for that and other reasons.

Some guys are in powered wheel chairs. These guys OWN these chairs. The punishment of having these chairs taken away as a punishment should be seen as ABUSE;  except in the case where the veteran has proven to the staff that due to physical and/or mental issues, the veteran lacks the skills to properly operate the power chair without becoming a danger to himself, others, or property. 

Walking into a veterans room in the middle of the night and snapping on all of the lights, thus waking up all the guys in that room, is seen by many vets, as abuse. Not respecting the privacy rights of veterans is also seen by the membership as abuse. Abuse doesn't always have to be physical.

And that abuse goes both ways. I have seen veterans get down right nasty with care givers and nurses that are trying to help them.  Case in point.  My room mate and I were interrupted one day when it was announced we would be getting a 3rd person in our 4 man room. The caregivers brought him up from another unit and this guy cussed them out calling them every name in the book he could think of because he was angry that he was being moved from that unit. His abuse of the staff was not acceptable. His other abuses eventually got him permanently discharged from the home.

Is it abuse of veterans to feed them a high carbohydrate diet when so many are suffering from Diabetes? Some would say yes.

Is it abuse of veterans, for staff members to go to a member council meeting and threaten them with disciplinary action, for the actions of another member who is not even in that unit? This happened many times at Dorm Unit member council meetings.

Is it abuse of a veteran, when that veteran is afraid to speak up, out of fear of being targeted for dismissal?

Is it abuse of Veterans, when staff members go to member council meetings, talk down to veterans then ignore what Veterans have to say in reply? This was standard policy the entire time I was at the home.

Punishment does happen at the home. So does abuse. And that abuse goes both ways.

To act as if it does not happen, is to deny reality and what goes on at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

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