A Christmas wish for veterans

By Arlene Violet
Posted 12/26/19

As the song lyrics say, “All I want for Christmas is….my two front teeth”? NOT! I have them. But, what I really hope for is better care of veterans.I don’t   know …

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A Christmas wish for veterans


As the song lyrics say, “All I want for Christmas is….my two front teeth”? NOT! I have them. But, what I really hope for is better care of veterans.

I don’t   know about you but I get guilty when my mailbox is full of solicitations from such organizations as the Disabled War Veterans. At least twice monthly I get asked to give money. When I watch the Wounded Warriors ads on television, even though my head reminds me of the scandalous administrative spending a couple of years ago, my heart has me looking for my check book. Most fundamentally, I rue the fact that this country doesn’t take care of its veterans because, if it did, there would be no need for private funding of needs.

Politicians all wax poetically about the sacrifices of our military and their families but seem to forget all about them as soon as they put away the speech they just delivered on December 7th, on the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The public should be insisting that Uncle Sam take care of ALL the necessary needs of those who served as a priority of spending public tax dollars.

How ironic is was, therefore, to find out right around that time of remembrance that the state is running a deficit of about $3 million plus at the Rhode Island Veterans Home. The fact is that the state seriously miscalculated the costs of running the facility. For example, the vets are in individual rooms. With public and private toilets there are about 400 a day to clean and maintain. There is a shortage of maintenance people for the battery operated “thrones”. The thermal pool hasn’t been used since there is a chronic shortage of physical therapists. In other words, the place “looks like”’ it cares about treatment but doesn’t deliver.

The rank and file deliverers of service from the nurses, aides and cooks etc. are doing yeomen’s work. The administrators are another story. I have represented veterans and their families and I am told that the residents hardly, if at all, see the administrators. How are these top salaried people ever going to learn the needs of the veterans there if they “govern” from afar?

Instead, as they sit in their ivory towers they mandate “cuts” without consultation. They try to pile on work for an already overworked line force. They, however, remain unmaimed by the day to day services needed.

In the same week that this news broke attention was diverted from the needs at the home by the Christmas tree fiasco. The Governor snubbed RI tree farmers by purchasing a $6500 plastic tree made in China for the State House. Criticism was justifiable at the excuse that the state house was too hot. (If that were so, how did virtually all of them except the last one that wasn’t watered last year, survive? The cynicism was right on about the campaign to get rid of plastic bags at the same time the Governor bought a non-bio-degradable artificial tree. So much for commitment to the environment.

Let’s get back on the table the treatment of veterans at their home in Bristol. Allocate proper funding and stop acting like Scrooge on Smith Hill.

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

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