Sen. Guglielmo: “The State’s Veterans Home has been ignored”

December 22, 2014

We owe our veterans an apology and an action plan.”

Hartford, CT – State Senator Tony Guglielmo (R-Stafford) released the following statement regarding a Dec. 19 report from nonpartisan staff regarding recommendations for improving the State Veterans Home in Rocky Hill.

In May 2014, the Program Review and Investigations (PRI) committee of which he is a member, authorized a study to evaluate the Connecticut State Veterans’ Home’s operations and effectiveness. The home includes, dorms for short term stays, a Nursing Care Facility and Independent homes for substance abuse patients – apartments or single family homes across from the Rocky Hill campus. The Home is the centerpiece of the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). The state DVA established the home in 1940. Federal Veterans Administration surveys the facility to make sure it meets standards. It accounted for 97 percent of the department’s budget in FY 14, with a cost of nearly $28 million.

“This report reveals a sad reality: the state’s Veterans Home has been ignored. Non-partisan staff researchers found that veterans are not being heard by facility administrators. They cited a lack of attention from the Home’s Board of Trustees and the state legislature.

“We owe our veterans an apology and an action plan.

“For this, we – including the last several administrations and the legislature – should take responsibility. Our veterans deserve respect and quality care. They should be treated with dignity.

“PRI staff found the Department of Veterans Affairs has had lack of vision and oversight. Too many veterans are staying in the dorms for an extended amount of time. As suggested in the report, the department needs to do a better job staffing social workers to help transition the veterans to jobs and permanent housing in the community. Right now, one social worker is trying to help 96 veterans at a time. That is impossible. The PRI staff recommendation of one social worker to every 25 veterans is more in line with best practices.

“A bright spot in the report shows the nursing care facility is performing quite well on quality of care according to federal and state inspections. The PRI staff however notes that with direct care staffing changes it would be wise to keep an eye on performance to make sure the standards are maintained.

“PRI is recommending the Veterans Affairs board develop (and submit to the legislature and governor) an annual report by February 15 of its previous calendar year’s activities. I agree the report should include the Home’s progress in fulfilling its mission based on programmatic outcomes.”

Attached: PRI highlight report