GRAND RAPIDS – The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans is refusing to purchase a $530 license that would allow its residents and family members to buy and share meals together at the facility, a move state Representatives Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) are calling insensitive to the unique needs of veterans and their families. The legislators have pledged to do all they can to get the home’s dining services licensed to serve family members and will pay out-of-pocket for the license if needed.

“There is something sacred about a family coming together to share a meal, and that is especially true when one of the family members is seriously ill or in the end stages of life,” Brinks said. “That’s why I can’t comprehend why the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans won’t spend the mere $530 needed to allow family members to dine together at the home. These are men and women who bravely served their country in a time of need, and the very least we can do for them is to help them enjoy a dinner with their loved ones.”

The Home for Veterans was notified by the federal Veterans Administration recently that it lacked a license needed to serve food to family members, staff members and volunteers. Rather than buy the $530 license from the county, the home has instead opted to end food service to everyone but residents, creating a hardship for the facility’s residents and their visitors – many who drive from hours away to spend time with loved ones. Both Brinks and Dillon have reached out to the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, which oversees the home, but their calls and emails have gone unanswered over the past week, and the Kent County Health Department said the home hasn’t asked about getting the needed license.

It’s just the latest problem to emerge at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, where residents complained about poor quality of care after caretakers employed by the home were replaced with lower-cost contract workers two years ago.

“Many visitors at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans are there to spend the final hours with a family member,” Dillon said. “To tell them they have to leave the bedside of a loved one just to get a meal is cruel and heartless – especially when the solution to this problem is so simple. If the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans can’t afford to get this license, Rep. Brinks and I will do everything in our power to get it for them, even if it means we pay for it out of our own pockets.”