I have lived at the Hastings Veteran's Home for 5 years. This blog was formed by other veteran's at the home and myself in 2006 and has carried certain issues with regard to veteran's care. As a matter of record, I wish to convey a letter I wrote to my sister on the most recent events. I will let it speak for itself :
No, I have not experienced retaliation here.
I am only at the facility in the early morning for breakfast and in the evening for dinner and then sleep. The rest of the time I am gone on other matters. I live across the road from the main building these days in a smaller unit along the river. I get my medications twice a month and take that myself. My glasses, dental care and annual physicals, flu shots and the like are all part of the rent I pay from my pension. The clothing room and similar furnishings are available when I need them. What remains of my monthly check is adequate for me because my needs are very simple these days.
As I got well 5 years ago, I realized part of my recovery required getting as far away from bureaucratic settings and authority as possible. I found over the years in the war zone and in 35 years of corporations and dealing with Washington DC that my tolerance level for it was 0 at age 60.
I have taken pains never to meet the top management of the facility here. When Clark Dyrud was Veteran's Commissioner he and I had lunch and exchanged emails over the years since he assisted me out of Washington, but by mutual agreement we never discussed work; only family and friends from high school and our experiences in Vietnam, since he and I went through some of the same trauma during the war. I have never been seen in public with Clark on facility grounds. Now that he is retired I am sure he is relieved. He was a good services officer for over 30 years.
I meet with staff here only twice a year for a care team review. They know what I do and respect me for it. I have received facility volunteer awards for my work in the community each of the 5 years I have been here. All staff I have encountered have been professional at what they do, sincere in their motives and helpful. They have a difficult job. The population here is of vastly varying backgrounds and ages. Many are 20 years younger than I and have a lot of life ahead of them but fell on hard times, addiction, depression and other maladies veterans are particularly vulnerable to.
I have supported both Tony and Louie with advice, government insights into agencies, correspondence and getting legal help. I got Tony's paperwork released from Homeland Security under the Freedom of Information Act because I know how to do it having worked government agencies in my career. I wrote a letter that resulted in Louie getting some wood working privileges back that had been taken away and a visit from a State Representative. I have done all this behind the scenes and on a personal basis with these men. I also arranged for Tony's Washington D.C. pro-bono legal help, and set up a blog for him and his cause:
I helped both men because I felt the system, from the federal level to the state level, was letting them down. They have appreciated my assistance and have told me so.
This facility to me is a room with a beautiful view of the Vermilion River, a great little small town I enjoy, fishing, photography, writing, and intellectually stimulating non-profit volunteer work in an office supplied by the county at no cost so I can help small business.
I have served 3,700 clients through the non-profit organization SCORE, many local businesses and small enterprises in every state in the union and its territories. I have American clients in several foreign countries. Roughly 30 % of my client base is veterans. My government contracting web site has received over 74,000 visits and 133,000 page views:
In short, the Minnesota Veteran's Home is an ingredient in Ken, reinvented in retirement and I am enjoying it very much.
I consider the recent events unfortunate, but sometimes they are necessary for improvements.
I hope you understand,