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Veteran Abuse: Rampant Mistreatment in VA Care Facilities

Throughout the country, Veterans Affairs (VA) Community Living Centers exist to serve all men and women who have served in the armed forces, and who require constant medical attention or care as they age. As a result, approximately 46,000 elderly and disabled veterans reside in 132 U.S. government-operated nursing homes. The goal of these VA Community Living Centers is to “restore to maximum function, prevent further decline, maximize independence, or provide comfort when dying.” However, those goals are not always achieved.

Sadly, as the rampant issues of elder abuse and neglect in U.S. nursing homes and long-term care facilities have come to light, we’ve learned that veterans in VA-operated care facilities have also reported serious mistreatment.  

Much like other residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, many elderly veterans are in a frail state, and even the slightest abuse and neglect can cause or contribute to severe or fatal injuries. Yet, many veterans also suffer from additional complications like combat-related injuries and disorders such as PTSD. These conditions leave veterans more susceptible to several types of abuse.

Types of abuse & neglect identified in VA long-term care facilities:

  1. Medical Mismanagement: Serious failures in medical management and infection control are occurring among elderly veterans. As was the case of Navy Veteran Tim Johnson who died in 2014, at the age of 43, as a result of sepsis and cardiac arrest. He was in the facility because of rheumatoid arthritis in his knees, likely due to his years of service.
     
  2. Unlawful Restraint: Unlawful use of antipsychotic medications is a frequent issue in VA nursing homes. Veterans are more likely to suffer from PTSD and other behavioral disorders. In order to make care easier for staff, veterans are often restrained physically and chemically.
     
  3. Verbal and Emotional Abuse: Some veterans have reported humiliating verbal or emotional abuse, which can take a serious toll on their mental and physical health. As individuals who were once strong defenders of our country, facing verbal or even physical abuse they cannot prevent can be emotionally devastating.
     
  4. Inadequate Attention: State-operated VA Community Living Centers, just like regular nursing homes and care facilities, are often understaffed, or staffed by individuals not able to offer the specialized care needed by veterans.

Mistreatment of veterans in facilities specifically designed to serve them is especially disturbing and should not be tolerated. In order to improve the care received by veterans, instances of abuse or neglect must be reported and the VA facilities responsible must be prosecuted for their negligence.

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to review proposed amendments to protect the rights and well-being of veterans residing in various VA community living facilities by 2016. They hope to identify the systemwide issues like staffing and medical mismanagement and provide a uniform level of safety and care.

But ultimately, the fastest way to achieve justice for residents who are suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect in a VA facility is through legal action. If you or a loved one has been a victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, long-term care facility or VA community living center, contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney at Hupy and Abraham. Call 800-800-5678 for a free, no-obligation consultation, or start a live chat with us anytime at Hupy.com