Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Special session is needed to address terrifying conditions at veterans home

Democrats are right: Gov. Walker should call a special session of the state legislature

Image by Karen Barefoot
The mistreatment of patients and deplorable conditions of facilities meant to serve those living at Wisconsin Veterans Home at King have been well-documented.

Katelyn Ferral and Saiyna Bashir at the Cap Times put words and pictures to good use in revealing what exactly was going on at King, including providing insights into outdated medical equipment, bad drinking water, overmedicating of patients, and possible retaliation of those who dared to tell.

And FOX 6 in Milwaukee recently interviewed family members of a late resident of the vet home, who described in grim detail how terrifying the ordeal had been for him:
"My dad loved helping other veterans," Sharon Blando said.

But during his final years, Blando says officials at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King ignored and overmedicated her father.

"'They just overdosed him. That's what they do with a lot of their patients. They`d rather not take care of them," Kristi Williamson, Walter Sundling's granddaughter said.

Williamson took photos of Sundling slumped over in his wheelchair.

"They would put a pillow on the table so that when his head would fall, it would hit the pillow rather than the table or floor," Blando said.

Blando says her father suffered a leg wound for three months.


Blando says her father was a prisoner of war during WWII and suffered a foot injury while captive.

"He said he received better care for his foot in a German POW camp than he did for his leg wounds at the King VA facility," Blando said.
Emphases in bold mine.Better care as a POW than at King? While the statement may be hyperbolic, it does get the point across: patients are suffering, and their treatment at King needs to improve.

And what has our governor done to help the situation? Not much. According to Robert Cloud at Waupaca County News, more than $12 million has been transferred out of state veterans’ funds this year alone, with another $18 million planned for next year.

We shouldn’t be so surprised, however. Scott Walker hasn’t exactly been a friend to vets. It was under his watch as Milwaukee County Executive that thousands of dollars went missing from a veterans fund in an apparent embezzlement scheme that occurred mere steps from his desk. And according to the reporting of Mary Spicuzza of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker wasn’t exactly cooperative with trying to serve out justice to those who were close to him committing these criminal acts:
When Scott Walker was Milwaukee County executive, his office obstructed a criminal probe into thousands of dollars missing from a veterans charity, two investigators said Friday in a federal court filing.


"The County Executive's Office was uncooperative and obstructed the District Attorney's Office's efforts to obtain documentation of the County's receipt and disbursement of donations from Operation Freedom," the filing from two investigators in Chisholm's office reads. "As a consequence, the District Attorney's Office was forced to petition a John Doe proceeding in order to have legal mechanisms to obtain relevant documentation from the County Executive's Office."
We know that Walker stood in the way of investigations into embezzlement of veterans funds at the county level. We also know that Walker and his Republican allies in the state legislature moved millions of dollars away from a veterans home that was in sore need of repairs and better staff.

Our vets deserve much better than this. We cannot allow these abuses to stand, and we must correct them before more harm is done to those who served our country. The Democrats in the state legislature are right to request a special session to address the needs of the Veterans Home at King. And Gov. Walker, if he has any shred of respect left for those who have served our nation’s armed forces, should rightly call the session to order, the sooner the better.


  1. The governor has no moral compass so he is void of any shred of respect or decency. The residents at King cannot contribute to his campaign nor vote in any significant block for him therefore they just get kicked to the curb. It is not coincidence that Walker demanded ACT 20 be immediately passed upon his taking office giving him control over all agency rules and policies. We have seen what this has done at the DNR and the DOC......funding cuts and terrible services for the people they are supposed to not only serve but advocate for their well-being.

  2. Mr. Walker, I wonder whether your commentary is based on any first-hand information about these "deplorable conditions" at WVH. Why not put your conclusions to the test by coming up to Waupaca and touring the facility? We'll give you a two hour tour where you can see our facilities and talk with members on a random basis. Call the main King number and ask to speak to the commandant.