I have lived at the Hastings Veteran's Home for 11 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 and world events. As a matter of record, I wish to convey a letter I wrote to my sister. I will let it speak for itself
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 11 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.
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 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 Rose and Louie Klemek 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 over 7000 clients through the non-profit organizations SCORE and Micro Mentor and many local businesses and small enterprises in every state in the union and its territories, receiving the SCORE National Achievement Award shown in the right margin of this site in 2010 for mentoring over 500 clients in the SCORE on-line counseling program. I have American clients in several foreign countries. Roughly 30 % of my client base is veterans. My government contracting web site has received over 700,000 visits.
In short, the Minnesota Veteran's Home is an ingredient in Ken, reinvented in retirement and I am enjoying it very much.