Poli-ticks

Arlene Violet: Stop nickel-and diming the veterans and families

By Arlene Violet
Posted 10/23/20

Kudos to veterans John Cianci, Jack Choquette, and John Leonard who continue to speak out against the invasion of the assets of veterans at the Rhode Island Veterans Home. Because of the double …

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Poli-ticks

Arlene Violet: Stop nickel-and diming the veterans and families

Posted

Kudos to veterans John Cianci, Jack Choquette, and John Leonard who continue to speak out against the invasion of the assets of veterans at the Rhode Island Veterans Home. Because of the double dipping using federal funds while also charging combat disabled veterans, the state has been ordered to return $5 million to these veterans and/or their estates.

Never to be daunted by this faux pas, the governor and RI VA Director, Kasim Yarn, have now submitted a budget which seeks 100 percent (currently 80 percent) of a veteran’s income minus deductions for personal needs and a few paltry exceptions.

Besides depleting the money available to "at home" spouses (usually women), the 100 percent grab of income just happens to equal the $5 million that the state is supposed to reimburse those illegally charged. It seems vindictive that when the state got caught at wrongdoing it now moves to punish other veterans and their families by making them, in effect, pay for the mismanagement of the state’s veterans department.

It’s pretty cheeky to blame a lack of funds when the state kept on 2 administrators at the home at 6 figure salaries for at least 5 months. One was unnecessary and the second gentleman, presently in charge, doesn’t meet the job requirement of being a veteran. The governor had plenty of money for these big salaries while penny-pinching vets.

Somehow, the state hasn’t figured out that you cannot attract CNAs and other nursing posts there because they are ineligible to receive bonuses and minimum pay boosts given at other nursing homes. Instead, the state preferred to contract out services, paying both a premium to the staffing agency and overtime. Further, with any such grab of 100 percent of a veteran’s income and the draconian measures overly restrictive of visits and veterans coming out of their rooms for normal activities, families would be loath to apply for the approximate 32 vacant beds among the maximum 192 rooms. In effect, the state is seeking about $11,000 per month per veteran and curtailing the economy of scale.

This funding problem has been allowed to fester because the veterans’ past payments went 80 percent to the General Fund and 20 percent to a restricted receipt account for the home. Veteran John Cianci is preparing an open records request to learn just how much money from the latter account went to the shortfall at of the Veteran’s Home, instead of its intended purpose to update equipment and beds.

While seeking this payment increase from veterans, physical therapy and occupational therapy was MIA and now only available sporadically, if the veteran pays extra. So much for treating our veterans with respect and dignity.

In protest of this money grab from veterans and families, the United Veterans Council of Rhode Island is organizing a rally on October 24 at 11 a.m. at the Bristol Veteran’s Home. Plans are in the works for a motorcade from the state house at 9:45 a.m. to the Home. If you are as disheartened as I am of this proposed 100 percent funding formula, I hope that you will join me at this socially distant, masked rally. Check out Friends of Rhode Island Veterans Home on Facebook for more information.

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

Arlene Violet

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