Veterans hold a particularly exalted place in American society. Seen by many as a class of citizens who have placed their lives on the line for their country, many believe that veterans deserve special treatment upon their return, and often businesses even dedicate events or discounts to veterans.
Additionally, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) attempts to help veterans receive treatment, education, and psychological care after they return from duty.
Many years after a veteran has served their country, however, it seems that the quality of treatment they receive can decline. In fact, in a recent VA nursing home investigation, USA Today reports that almost all of the homes were found to have some kind of deficiency.
Many of these deficiencies placed these aging heroes in immediate or eventual danger.
Who Was Implicated in the VA Nursing Home Investigation?
Throughout the United States and in territories like Puerto Rico, the United States VA operates 133 nursing homes. According to the VA nursing home investigation:
- 52 VA homes were found to have deficiencies that caused “serious harm” to the veterans living there.
- 26 VA homes were found to have allowed harm to veterans solely due to inadequate bedsore prevention or treatment.
- 11 VA homes were found to have deficiencies that placed veterans in “immediate jeopardy” and may lead to deaths.
Out of 133 homes, only seven states had homes that received no deficiency reports, including:
- New Orleans
- Miles City
What Deficiencies Were Reported in the VA Nursing Home Investigation?
The VA nursing home investigation unearthed hundreds of deficiencies and infractions, providing an itemized list of each instance and rule broken for the public. Some deficiencies were labeled as “relatively harmless” while others presented a “clear hazard to residents.”
Most of the homes possessed at least one of the following issues that created a hazardous or inadequate environment for residents, such as:
- Veterans being left in pain without treatment
- Failure to medicate on time or appropriately
- Failing to clean the trash cans of human wastes
- Unsanitary practices by nurses
- Unsafe food preparation practices
- Failure to properly sanitize gloves and environment
- Lack of dignified treatment of veterans
- Veterans left in their own feces
This type of behavior and treatment is not acceptable for the men and women who laid their lives on the line to defend the United States. Many people are outraged by the VA nursing home investigation, but lasting change will not come without citizen activism for meaningful changes.
How to Proceed Following the VA Nursing Home Investigation
While the results of the VA nursing home investigation are upsetting, the important message to take from these findings is caution. If you or a loved one are considering placing a family member who is a veteran into assisted residential living, use the VA nursing home guide tool to screen local VA nursing homes for quality and past issues. If the VA operated facilities seem inadequate, then a private home may be preferable.
Whatever the choice, it should be the goal of the U.S. VA to improve conditions for veterans to give them the respect and comfort they deserve to live out their final decades in a dignified and honorable manner.