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Residents, advocates give disturbing testimony in latest Grand Rapids Home for Veterans hearing

Posted at 6:53 PM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-17 20:53:26-04

LANSING, Mich. -- Residents at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans described the horrific conditions they experienced at the facility during a hearing Thursday in Lansing.

Veterans described their fear of being kicked out of the home if they complained about the conditions, choosing to suffer silently rather than rock the boat.

There were accusations that the budget was cut so much that patient care was sacrificed to fund other state programs.   One veteran testified about witnessing maggots crawl across another man's feet.

"We're ignoring them.  We're giving them lip service that we care about our veterans; and as well meaning as all of us are, we are not putting our money where our mouth is," Rep. Holly Hughes said Thursday.

However The Michigan Democratic Party criticized Rep. Hughes when the audit was released to the public.  In a written statement, they pointed to the fact that she voted for the budget in 2011 that carved $4 Million from the Grand Rapids Veterans Home budget.

“If she wants answers and accountability from the people responsible for the horrendous conditions at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, she needs to look in the mirror. Her vote, in 2011, for the budget that cut $4.2 million from the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and privatized the care of our servicemen and servicewomen is what caused this crisis of neglect for Michigan veterans. If Hughes wants to contribute to the solution this time, instead of the problem, she should demand that this contract be canceled and the dedicated employees who served our veterans for so long be brought back. It’s time for this experiment on our veterans to end,” said Brandon Dillon, Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party in a February 2016 press statement.

There are several clear-cut suggestions for changes at the home following a scathing audit described conditions at the home.   Recommendations include hiring a temporary compliance officer and an independent ombudsman who would look into unresolved complaints.