News of what is going on at the Veterans Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the changes finally taking place there. This page is now the main source of information about the home, as reported by outsiders, as the facebook page has been removed due to lack of participation and continual problems with facebook itself. This page is not connected to the homes administration in any way, shape or form nor approved by them.
This got sent to me from a 3rd party.. not sure if its real or not, but if it is, THANK YOU JUNE!
You hit the nail on the head..
---------- Original Message ----------
From: June Hendricks
Date: July 28, 2017 at 4:07 PM
Subject: Grand Rapids Home for Veterans
a disgrace to every intelligent person in the State of Michigan. By
charging only the lowest level employees of falsifying records, you have
completely ignored the bigger issues.
What about the
neglect and abuse of our veterans, some of which has resulted in death?
What about all the money that has just disappeared? What about the
supervisors, managers, and the higher ups?
You go after
the little guy and make headlines. You protect the bigger guys and no
doubt line your pockets and/or campaign chest with the wealth that was
stolen from our veterans.
Your office has numerous reports
documenting all of this, yet you only have the gonads to go after the
little guys. You should be ashamed!!
I would have
supported your run for Governor, but not now. You have shown your true
colors and they are green and yellow. Green for the greed of the
almighty dollar and yellow at the cowardice to seek the truth and
prosecute the true offenders.
I will do my best now to make sure everyone knows what you are and I will never support you as a candidate for anything, ever.
The privatization experiment should be ended. We now know that privatization requires extra vigilance and oversight, for it to work properly and Michigan did not provide that oversight at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
The fiasco at this location was due to economics and again, poor oversight of the Michigan government. Gov'r Rick Snyder inherited a broken economy, with low revenue streams and lots of welfare bills. And a dismal veterans care system. We were in last place.
His solution was to create Michigans own version of the VA. MVAA or Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency was created to get Michigan qualified to obtain Federal money which would be used for caring for the vets.
Then the MVAA, state congress, or who ever, decided to skip the rules, ignore the regulations and when the Administrator at the home retired or was ousted (depending on your point of view), Sara Dunn was pulled out of the kitchens and made top administrator. Kinda stupid, but that's what they did. It was her administration that is the focus of that really bad VA audit, and the group that advocates wanted to see Atty General Bill Scheutte go after, (which he did not)..
Now Gov' Snyder had a juggling act, with the states budget.. The Granholm administration left it in a total mess.
Part of Snyders idea was to run the home as a for profit business. and you cannot do that. It has been a failure.. And the seeds of that failure have been planted into the new authority for the new vets home model. Not a good idea.. This combined with lack of accountability, is what lead to the problems at the vets home. Accountability that is STILL MISSING as the AG office clearly refuses to impose it.
Recently Atty General Bill Scheutte announced criminal charges on some low level employees. Not one higher up administration person has been charged, even when evidence of their wrong doing was given to the AG office which now claims they don't have.
Higher administration officials let things happen at the home and some of them did the atrocities.
Again this page will name names, call for charges, demand justice for our veterans.
Saturday was Carnival day at the Vets home. The yearly event for residents, family members and guests of Residents. Lots of people volunteer to help out. Many past member residents attend, using the event to visit friends who still live at the home.
But this year was different and some found themselves locked out of the event.Apparently the rules changed due to a problem last year.
This year (and next, so this is a warning to all), you MUST BE PRE-REGISTERED if you THINK you MIGHT attend. No last minute, spur of the moment registrations. They want to know who is there, and who is not.
Doors to the buildings were locked. A few were open, such as the main entrance, and the double doors to the pavilion area, next to Kozy corners. Felt like a lock down at a prison.
Visitors had to register at the main entrance. Then, walk all the way down to the pavilion area and register again as a guest or a volunteer. There they got a wrist band. Without it, all they could do is walk around. They could not get any water, drinks, food or whatever without getting a wrist band when they registered.
Before this year, registration was not necessary, but encouraged. This year it was and not everyone knew about it. And since they could not register, many just left and went home, feeling locked out. And they are not happy about this. Nor are some of the residents.
So once again, we have a case of poor communication, lack of information, that prevented some people from participating in this years carnival, which by the way, is the smallest one I have seen in the last 15 years. And I believe it may get smaller, or just stop, as there will be no need for such an event, when the home's population is 150 or less.
In 2010, this blog was started as a personal history of time spent at the veterans home by one of the residents whose very early life started just feet away from the veterans home.
As time went on, he started logging in the abuses he was witnessing, that were being imposed on fellow veterans thinking what he was seeing was just plain wrong. And that is how this blog page became the first outside voice for those veterans living at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
Some of the more vociferous veterans started becoming active in advocating for other veterans who were afraid to speak up at the home. And it has been a learning experience since then. They did not know what to do, or who to talk to. We found out.. that and more.
When it became clear that the administration was in fact, part of the problem, these veterans who had put their lives on the line for this country, started looking for other ways to get the attention of someone to help the resident veterans at the home.
The sent reports to the media who did nothing, or went to the administration to report what they had been given. The administration blew off the reports, and then retaliated against the veterans whom the reports were about.
At first the veterans felt betrayed by the media people. As this article is named, it was a learning curve. We now know that media people have special responsibilities for what they publish/report and we were not giving them enough clear information to do a proper story. We still believe that at the time, the upper management of local media did not want to be the one to create a problem they felt did not exist, out of fear of being locked out of being able to do future stories at or about the home.
And once the terrible VA Audit came out in 2015, were they covered and thus empowered to start reporting about the home.
In the years since this blog started, we have determined that the problem was with the Sara Dunne administration. We also thought there was some problem with the MVAA (Michigan Veterans Affairs agency, a department created by Governor Rick Snyder). This turned out to be bigger than we thought, and yes it too was (and still is) part of the problem. What we could not do, is connect Governor Rick Snyder directly to the problem.. but we can now, indirectly. Again all part of the learning curve.
What we now know is that the MVAA, and the republican party all took the position that the would do what ever it took to protect the Governor Rick Snyder from being made accountable for the problems at the Veterans home. This group included people within the Attorney Generals office, the MVAA organization, and the administration of Sara Dunne, whose promotion from head of kitchens to top administrator there itself was a political scam, circumventing the will of members of the State congress who wanted someone else to be the new top administrator.
This made the fiasco of the privatization of the health care workers at the home, which was supposed to save taxpayer money and solve other problems the home had with some of the states unionized workers at the home, even worse for the residents. Privatization seemed to be a good idea. It turns out it the way it was managed, was not. And the governments mismanagement and lack of oversight of the new privatized health care contracts and people, helped to create the history of abuses to veterans at the home that we know of today.
We know that the idea behind the creation of the Michgan Veterans Affairs Agency was the result of Michigan being named as being in last place for the amount of money it spent on veterans. We were 52 out of 52 locations, which included all 50 states and the 2 US territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. In order to get federal funding (money) we had to change the way we did things to qualify to get that money and that was the job of the MVAA. To create policies that brought us up to qualification standards that would get us federal money to spend on veterans. And it worked. Michigan began receiving federal money and spending on Veterans increase. This started with Governor Rick Snyder's first term in office which started in 2010. Michigans term limits will prevent Snyder from running for office again in 2018, as he has served 2 full terms and Governors have a max of 10 years as Governor under this law.
The previous 8 years were under Democrat Canadian born governor Jennifer Granholm, who presided over Michigan during the 2000 - 2008 economic collapse of the industrial based economy that once made Michigan one of the best places to live and where Detroit once held the title of the highest per capita income city in the USA.
As time went on at the Vets home and the problems continued despite constant bad VA audits that showed continual problems at the home, audits that were signed off by Battle Creek VA director Mary Beth Skupien (a federal employee) things came to a head when one particular VA auditor got so frustrated with the way he was being handled by the Vets home administration while he was doing his audit, that he ended up writing the audit that turned out to be the one that exposed beyond deniability that there were serious problems at the Grand Rapids Home for veterans. The MVAA and the Republican party could no longer ignore the problems which had been made public by that audit.
Advocates at the time continued to speak up for the veterans at the home. Yet the still seemed to be ineffective. As the Michigan legislature became involved in their own investigation, hearings were held in at the capital in Lansing Michigan by both House and senate committees, who invited veterans and advocates to speak to the legislature.
We now know that at this time there were two groups of advocates for the veterans. The first group was the Service Organizations, (SOE's) who for years advocated for veterans, helped to support the home with donations for veterans, money for activities and projects such as the Grilling hut located next to the pavilion where there are 6 gas grills used for picnics for the veterans. The remodeling of the Grotto park, the building and maintaining of the Band Stand, providing bingo games, and prizes for residents, and donations of all kinds. Without this outside help, the home would have been just another institution for veterans. And these SOE's also advocated for all of Michigans Veterans. These SOE groups include but are not limited to groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion (AL) AmVets, and others.
The there was what I call the "inner circle" (ICU) advocates. Those advocates who were members or residents, both present and past and the family members who dared to speak up about what the personally experienced at the home.
Around March of 2016, The State of
Michigan House of Representatives joint committee made up of the members of the
House ethics committee and the Military affairs oversight committee herd testimony from the public on the conditions at the Veterans home. Advocates from both groups as well as others testified to this committee. Last to speak on the last of the 3 days of hearings was American legion spokes person Mark Suttons who put a wet blanket on the testimony of those who went before him. Basically Mark, a person rarely seen at the Vets home, told the legislature, that "not everyone thinks its a bad place to live" after hearing horror story after another about the conditions at the home. Then on June 6th, 2016, the state legislature did something it has done only twice since 1990 - it held a hearing outside the capital. They came to the Grand Rapids veterans home to give veterans who could not travel to Lansing earlier that year, a chance to speak to them. Again advocates from all groups attended.
The result were some changes to the home, and the homes administration. Sara Dunne was retired. MVAA announced a new care system to be put in place, with a CEO acting as president and several vice presidents, and each home with a daily operation officer (DOO) to report to the CEO. Leslie Shanlian was chosen to be CEO, with the current administrator of the Jacobetti home in the UP to remain as DOO, and Scott Blankey was hired to be GRHFV's DOO. Both Leslie and Scott signed 2 year contracts and were hired to turn the place around. Also the creation of a new authority to run the Michgan veterans homes, which would upgrade the model being used. After looking at other states systems, it was decided to adapt one similar to what Tennessee has. During this time, CEO Leslie quit her job first claiming family issues, then later admitting she was frustrated and tired of being interfered with by MVAA officials, the red tape, and not being allowed to do the job she was hired to do. I am also told she found it difficult to work with Scott. And of course the entire system when on the attack of the privatized health care workers, the contracts with J2S, blaming J2S for a lot of the problems, when in fact, these problems were allowed to continue by GRHFV administrators and the MVAA who acted so slowly to identify and correct problems. The fact that contracts were in place that limited what the could do, hampered their ability to do this.
Many issues identified at the hearings, and the resulting investigations and audits still exist at the home, despite the many positive changes that have happened. Yes Leslie and Scots work has improved conditions at the home in many ways; and in many ways the administration now missing Leslie, still has a lot to do. Brad Slagle, the DOO of the J Jacobetti home in the UP took up the CEO job on a temporary basis. As of today I do not know if a permanent replacement is being looked for as the main focus of energies seem to be the creation, implementation, and execution of the new authority that will end up running the Michigan Veterans home system. The new system calls for several smaller homes be built in various population centers, more central to where veterans live. No longer having one big facility like the GR home. Each new home will have about 150 or less rooms for veterans. And will draw on local resources thus making it easier for the state to provide services to the veterans. This of course is dependent upon obtaining federal money to help pay for it all. A new home will be built on the grounds of the current GR home, and the old buildings will be either removed (Rankin building will be removed) or renovated for other uses such as office spaces.
During the troubled times of the previous administration the Attorney Generals office ran by Bill Schutte was informed of the on going problems at the home. His response was "the veterans do not have to live there, if they don't like it they can live somewhere else", or words to that effect. It is now clear to many advocates that his attitude towards veterans has not changed. - He could care less.
The scathing audit of 2015 and the outrage of veterans and advocates, and members of the legislature who claim they knew nothing of the happenings at the home despite MVAA employee James Dunn claiming he informed them of everything, caused the AG's office to start a criminal investigation of the home. Prior to that, when advocates went to Lansing to file reports, they were met with a very negative attitude by government workers. Instead of agreeing to look into the complaints, the advocates were told anything that was given to the government would be used to protect it, not investigate it for wrong doing.
July 26th, 2017, AG's office announced the filing of 11 charges against middle management workers at the home. Not one charge against the upper administration. Many feel these people are being used as scapegoats and advocates anger hit an all time high at this news. The AG news release claimed their investigation was ongoing.
However reports from advocates who have contacted the AG's office have claimed that the AGs office is just plain incompetent itself. They tell me that Names, places, events were given to the AG's office after Schuette made the announce me that he was opening the investigation and needed information, and now the office is claiming they had none. Also, I am told that some how, several incident reports got mixed up and instead of having say 7 different incidents, the AG thinks there were 3 and the information about those 3, has stuff from the other 4 making it difficult to know what really happened. Well the advocates tried to straighten them out, and they are efforts are hitting a brick wall - again.
Advocates are extremely frustrated with the lack of the AGS's office to investigate, and hold accountable any high level administrator or MVAA official and have decided they will not accept the AG's resent report as being completed. On the contrary, many feel its time to break out the big stuff and light the fires for a drawn out battle with the AG's office.
AG Bill Schuette is planning on running for Governor in 2018 and many are saying this will be the thing that he will have to face and will cause him to lose the election. And advocates are still learning what they have to do to force our government to hold those people in upper administrative positions accountable for the suffering they allowed to happen.
This isn't over yet. Advocates tried to do the right thing, but when your government refuses to do their job, it is a call to action.
Oh Catherine Buckley, love ya! I just heard a rumor that you caused Lino Pretto to be removed as the American Legion's liaison person between them and the legislature. I am told that when they announced his nomination for the job, you spoke up in amazed disgust at the possibility of "that pervert" being the one.. and apparently his name was withdrawn.
people may not know what happened during the Time of the previous
administration. A number of abuses of veterans at the home occurred.
were systematically stripped of all assets by the Guardian/Conservator System
imposed on them by the state courts. Several times we had wives of veterans
tossed to the street, their family home sold out from underneath the wife who
belonged to the generation that took care of their “house wives”. because her
name was not on the houses deed. Married for 50+ years, no Social security,
nothing, and curbed because her hubby vet got put into the vets home when she
could no longer care for him due to her own problems she gets with aging. The guardian/conservator kicked them to the street.
were MURDERED by incompetent medical staff who gave them wrong
prescriptions,refused to follow VA
doctors instructions or did not treat their medical conditions properly. One
veteran named Monrow, was kicked out of Dom unit for refusing to turn over the medication he
got from VA Ann Arbor, after a major shoulder operation. And Dom unit people
are "self medicating" meaning they keep their meds locked up in their rooms, and take them as
required without help of nursing staff. The Doctors wanted to change his meds upon his return from his VA Hospital stay, and he refused to let them, choosing to follow the VA Surgeon's instructions. So
they kicked him out to the street.
Other vets in Nursing units were overdosed, given wrong meds, given meds they did not need, forced to take them against their will or have their personally owned property taken from them as punishment.
Some of the veterans would have a meds routine that they
had been on for years, then they move into the home and the doctors there
changed them, many times resulting in the Vet having to go to the ER. One vet
was taken by family members just 3 weeks after moving into the home, to the VA
hospital in Battle creek, near death because of what the homes medical staff
did to his meds schedule.
we had veterans who were forced to take drugs they did not need. One fellow
died from taking Depakote, a drug he did not need. The state imposed
conservator Sythia Thornbury ordered him to take it. When he refused they
threatened to take away his scooter – his PROPERTY that he owned. I call that
theft and intimidation. He had to carry a sign on his scooter that said if he did not take his meds, he would loose his scooter. This is abuse of veterans. And it happened more than just one of them.
Michigan family court judge David Murkowski was the one
who approved many of the homes request to impose a guardian or conservator upon
the veterans who became slaves to the guardian/conservator.The Veterans Freedom to choose, freedom to consent, was taken away from them by the courts and Murkowski. The veterans were
forced to pay the service fees for the conservators/guardians too, out of their own pockets.
I have one veteran currently living at the home whose conservator REFUSES To put his money into a trust for his daughters. The state wants to claim it after they kill him off, just as they did so many others before him.
tried to make another veteran take drugs he did not need because of a family
history of epilepsy. He did not have it, and taking it made him feel like a zombie.. so when he refused they fought with
him and his wife for 8 months trying to get the courts to impose a guardian on him. He
finally left the home after an accident caused him to spend 4 months in a
recovery hospital, and just 3 months after leaving that, he began walking again
for the first time in 6 years, with the help of a walker. His health improved
dramatically after leaving the home.
there is the intimidation of veterans. Sara Dunne stated publicly she would not
tolerate any resident talking bad about the home to state legislatures. She
said it was her job to talk to them. - denial of freedom of speech.
Board of Managers Lino Pretto told a group of residents they did not have a right to
hold a meeting amongst themselves to discuss issues. This is a denial of their
freedom to assemble and freedom of speech. It is well known, that any resident
who spoke up or made waves risked being kicked out of the home. And many were
under the Sara Dunn administration.
Jim Dunn, attorney, and I believe a former Michigan House of Represenatives, told people that he told the Governor everything that was going on at the home. He lied. The truth is he withheld information from the Governor to protect him and the upper management.
These people were intimidated to the point
where they were afraid to speak up about the abuses they suffered every day,
because they had no where else to go. And this is just some of the abuses
veterans tolerated every day.
One veteran was kicked out of the home for laying his hands on another veteran, while stopping 2 of them from fighting - one of which was nearly killed by the other one who was hitting him in the head with a bike lock in his hand. Had the veteran who broke up the fight not done so, we would have had another veteran murdered at the home by a fellow veteran and the Andy Ball case would have been one of several. - and it is.. the others just never got into court. The man who got kicked out is Jerry L, one of 2 veterans who testified in Lansing to the House joint committee about the abuses at the home. He too has become a victim of the administrations abuses.
Another veteran was kicked to the street without warning because he lost his temper when the home threatened to steal his car, having it towed away and impounded when it was parked in the wrong spot due to the staff always parking in the area reserved for residents. His first offense, and they kicked him out because he was an activist advocate for the veterans there. After being kicked out he was the other veteran who testified in Lansing about the abuses at the home.
When veterans called GR police department to report crimes by staff, GRPD refused to investigate.
It is really a wonder no one went postal there. A couple of times I thought someone was going to. One guy went around and pulled every fire alarm he could find in retaliation for the abuse he was putting up with.. they put him in court yard for a year and threatened him with removal to Battle Creek VA psychiatric unit..
And that VA Director of the Battle Creek VA hospital Mary Beth Skupian, who signed off on several years of VA audits showing continual problems at the Home. She needs to be held accountable as well. She could have done something, but did nothing.
During this time, AG
Schutte 's response to the complaints by veterans was "they don't have to live there", instead of looking into the complaints filed by veterans, families of veterans and advocates.
Well, yes they do have to live there, when
their only other option is the street. And many were kicked to the street, only
to die on the street, and in several case, less than half a mile from the home
itself. To this day residents are still afraid to speak up, and many do not
trust the new administration.
advocates and residents took their concerns to Lansing, they were refused, and
rebutted and told that anything they told Lansing would be used to support the
administration. Basically their pleas for help were rejected. THIS is why
everyone is so upset with Schuttes recent act of shear incompetence, and why so
many feel insulted by what he did not do. Lansings job was to protect people,
the veterans. Instead they protected the administration, and by doing so, have
now helped to victimize the veterans.
And now Schuttee dismal performance by announcing the criminal charges against middle management while refusing to hold accountable the upper management who supposedly were supervising the middle management and FAILED, has insulted the veterans, veterans groups and advocates, and everyone is in an uproar over it.
This isn't over yet people.. the fire storm is about to hit Schuette and Lansing. Shuette might as well give up his run for governor because this incident will be put front and center where ever he goes to speak for his run for governor.
On Monday,, 24 July 2017, Michigans Attorney General Bill Schuette announced criminal charges against 11 former workers at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, relating to the previous administration.
These are middle management people, and are being used as scapegoats, nothing more.
This poor performance of the AG's office is an insult to the justice demanded by the victims of the Sara Dunne administration.
Given Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and his team took so long
to announce charges relative to abuses at the Grand Rapids Home for
Veterans, I truly expected to see substantial, meaningful criminal
charges filed. I believe anyone abusing our veterans should be
prosecuted to the maximum extent possible.
In that regard, everyone should support
the filing of charges of the individuals named today.
However, activists for the veterans are
extremely disappointed that after all this time none of those charged
included some of the worst offenders: Michigan Attorney General
Schuette's own team member (who was the Assistant Attorney General who
guided past Admin. while atrocities were ongoing - the same one who
advised us Schuette and Governor Snyder were told "everything" as early
as 2014); the past administrators and Home leaders who not only shut a
blind eye to horrific abuses, but who should be directly accountable for
many abuses they made themselves; those who are accountable for the
still missing millions of dollars; as well as certain previously
identified Board of Manager members who threatened and intimidated those
who spoke out about abuses or asked for change.
happens, Any action taken by the Attorney generals office, is inadequate
for the justice demanded, and deserved by those victimized by the
Schuttee made his position
on veterans clear years ago when he said " they don't have to live
there", showing complete disrespect to those for which that veterans
home is the only place they have other than the street. And todays
action by Schuttee is a furthering of that previous idea.
words, he could care less.
Schutte claims that people did not provide him with names, locations, and specifics.. To this I claim BULL! I personally did video interviews of fellow residents, and took those videos and paperwork to both local media and Sent copies to the AG's office. NOTHING was done. No one stood up for the veterans. The AG office has that information.
There is no excuse for this poor performance of the AG's office.
It is clear that its position is one of protecting the Governor Rick Snyder Administration and its followers. Schuette should wear a bag over his head in public to hide his shame.