Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Lack of policy at vets home puts vet thru hell when they get curbed.

Ok, take a seat and let’s have a real discussion here. Let me ask you a few questions.

Raise your right hand if any of you think, that as bad as the Federal Veterans Administration is, that any veterans really wants to go there for health care? Ok, I see a few hands raised. True some vets think the VA gives excellent care. At the Ann Arbor VA hospital, despite having to hurry up and wait in line at labs, and what not, I did get good health care. And my operation was a big success or I would not be here now. So yeah, some VA locations are good. Not to sure about our local clinic – it is improving but the administration needs to go a long ways before I call it improved.

Now take a look at the Grand Rapids home for Veterans. It is a State ran facility, which uses federal VA money. It comes under state law. Raise your left hand if you think any vet in his right mind wants to go there. Ok again I see a few hands, but not as many as there should be.

Most veterans go to the VA or a place like the state ran Vets home because they have nowhere else to turn to, to get the help they need. This is true for the Federal VA and the GR home for vets.
In the case of the dorm unit, the home seems to have a history of confusion. The confusion is both about what a “home for veterans” is, and how to properly run one.

Remember, the original purpose of this Vets home, was to give civil war vets a place to live, and to get them OUT of the poor houses that existed at the time.

Yet today we have an administration, that after months of testimony about the LAST administration, seems to be throwing a veteran out of the home, back to the street, and back to the “poor houses” of modern day instead of keeping him in the Dom unit, where he has lived for 13 years.

Is the Dom unit as it is called, just a unit where veterans live long term, until they need to go to a nursing unit where they remain until they die? Or is it a unit were veterans who cannot function outside an institutionalized structured environment go to live? Or where veterans who are unemployable and have little or no income, go to live?

Or is it a transitory unit, where they go to get a “time out”? A place where they can relax and get their messed up lives together, or do a readjustment because their life style or conditions have changed, and they need time to gather needed resources. Right now the GRH4V administration seems to be having a hard time making the determination as to what the Dom Unit is.

A once productive veteran who lived outside the home finds himself unemployable, and going from taking home 1000 bucks a week pay, to living on 1000 a month disability, is a major change for anyone. Going from being independent to having to rely on people for help due to a medical issue, is another. And housing. Going from being able to pay your own cost of living in full to having to apply for Government housing assistance thru HUD, is another. Such things take time. And the stress on the veteran during this time is unbelievable.

Imagine working your whole life, and losing everything and ending up living on the street – in the USA!!! Such stories are what we expect to hear from 3rd world countries, not in the United States.
One of the options a veteran has is using a special program in HUD that is for veterans only. It is called HUD-VASH, or HUD Veterans Affairs Special Housing program. Applying for the benefit and getting started in this, can take 2 to 6 months. Once a person qualifies for it, they get a Voucher. They then have 30 days to find a place that will accept it. Michigan has no state wide anti-discrimination laws for low income people. Individual cities or town may, but as a whole no such thing exists state wide. And each county has its own HUD-VASH Program.

At one time in the GRH4V, the Dom unit was a transitory unit, where vets would be accepted, and they would get their affairs in order, apply for the voucher then leave the home. At the time they were accepted, they were called homeless veterans.

But in 2011, the feds changed the law. They said the veterans living in the Dom Unit are no longer to be classified as Homeless, thus disqualifying them from applying for HUD-VASH Vouchers. There was about 150 vets in the Dom unit when this happened. It is still that way today, and the Dom Unit is down to about 36 people, which includes 2 wives of veterans who are using the home as a retirement home.

If the home is going to return to the Transitory unit policy, it needs to set up procedures and options to help the veteran make the transition from living in the structured environment of the home, to living on their own and being responsible for their own care. This means finding a place to live that is affordable, being able to cook their own meals, and clean their own homes. Having reliable transportation so the vet can get to medical appointments at the VA clinic or VA hospital.

Most guys at the Dom Unit do not have a car, and rely on public transportation. In fact, most guys in the Dom unit own little other than the clothing they wear, and maybe a computer or TV for their room. They will need everything a real home needs. Eating supplies such as plates, cups, silverware. Cleaning supplies, dish soap, drying towels, Broom, mop, vacuum cleaner. Bathroom stuff, wash cloths, towels. And other things like laundry supplies. How about a Bed and bedding materials, sheets, pillows, blankets? Chair for the living room? Microwave? How about FOOD? Or getting utilities turned on if they have bad credit or outstanding bills? All this needs to be considered.
We cannot just throw Vets to the curb by saying it is time for them to leave the home.

When the home announces that a veteran must leave the facility, this is what the veteran is thinking: where will he or she go? Where will they get all of those items above, if they have no income, or little income? Can they get help thru government agencies, and if so which ones and where are they located at. The Vet goes thru depression and if he/she thinks they will end up on the street, I will say that they do think suicide as a possible option. Many throw out that option but the thoughts do cross their minds, even if they will not admit that they do.

3 weeks is not enough time. 3 MONTHS may not be enough time. It is even more difficult when the city you are in, is in a lack of affordable low income housing crisis because of economic growth. This is the case in Grand Rapids Metro area.

So why is this home throwing W to the curb? We are going to find out soon. He is under a lot of stress right now. You cannot imagine what it is like until you live thru it.

The home needs to take time to take a good look at its DOM unit, and its Policies (if there are any legal ones in place), and what it does to help a veteran transition from being a poor homeless person with few belongings to being able to be on their own in a home of their own. Other wise we are doing a disservice to the veterans, and in my opinion, the worst form of veteran abuse.

1 more thing to add to this.. all those so called service organizations that say they help veterans?? Guess what.. Unless you are service connected, most of them DO NOT HELP. This makes it harder for a non service connected veteran to get the help they need.

Lets not even talk about the fact Veterans represent less than 8 percent of our nations population. And that since 1972 we have been an all volunteer Military.

And the fact that groups of Veterans are still being treated differently based on their experiences while wearing the uniform, ready to put their lives on the line at any moment. Many were put in harms way and never got credit for it, and thus cannot get help from the HUNDREDS of so called veterans help organizations out there who only help specific classes or group of Veterans. We need to start recognizing that every veteran deserves to be helped if they need it, as they too contributed to our nations safety.

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