LANSING — State Reps. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids) and Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth) introduced House Bills 5219-5221 this week to protect Michigan’s brave men and women in uniform from abuse, neglect and exploitation by increasing accountability and access to resources for veterans in state-run veterans’ homes.

“Veterans have worked hard to secure our freedom. It’s important to honor them by ensuring they feel safe and have the means to report unscrupulous activity at our state facilities,” said Hood. “As we celebrate Veterans Day this month, it’s our responsibility to show our appreciation for their sacrifice through action and giving back to our neighbors in uniform for their selfless service to our country.”

Hood’s House Bills 5219 and 5221 would require the Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs (DMVA) to immediately notify the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) of any reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation occurring in Michigan veterans’ facilities, as well as empowering the Michigan Veterans Facility Ombudsman to independently investigate those reports. Koleszar’s House Bill 5220 would provide veterans a toll-free hotline to report abuse, neglect or exploitation of any adult residing in a state-run veterans’ facility.

“After sacrificing so much for our country, veterans deserve all the support we can provide,” said Koleszar. “Far too often, veterans have been victims of mistreatment by those charged with caring for them. This is unacceptable on every level and providing a direct avenue to report abuse and neglect will help us ensure our veterans are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

The bills introduced by Hood and Koleszar are part of House Democrats’ comprehensive Supporting MI Veterans package, which aims to support Michigan’s 550,000 veterans by waiving teaching license fees, providing property tax credits, offering access to free public transportation  and more.