LANSING — State Representative Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) said she is very disappointed that House Republicans failed to act to protect veterans receiving care at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and the D. J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette. During discussion of the state omnibus budget Tuesday, Brinks offered an amendment that would require allegations of abuse and neglect at veterans’ homes to be reported to the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and its ombudsman within 10 days.
“The men and women who served this country put their lives on the line to protect us,” Brinks said. “But when veterans are in need of our protection, a majority of legislators said ‘no.’ It’s hard not to see it as a slap in the face to the patriots who served our country.”
Brinks said her amendment is needed because the private companies that contract with the state to provide workers at the veterans’ homes have dragged their feet in responding to allegations of neglect and abuse. In one case, a nurse’s aide allegedly broke a veteran’s fingers and then bragged to her co-workers about it. In another, a veteran whose bed alarm had been activated was found dead more than two hours later — no one had responded to the call for help. Brinks’ amendment would have required private companies to report abuse and neglect allegations to the state within 10 days.
“The men and women who served our country deserve our respect and gratitude,” Brinks said. “I had hoped that other legislators would have supported protections for vulnerable veterans, and I was disappointed to see they did not. I will continue to push for protections and programs that help those who served our country because it’s the right thing to do.”