WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Congressman Bryan Steil (WI-01) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary McDonough and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Brooks-LaSure in response to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s investigative report on the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove.
The letter reads:
I write to share my extreme concern regarding a recent investigative report published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that exposes the mistreatment of veterans at the state-run Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove, in Wisconsin’s First Congressional district.
The article highlights how the state-run facility in Union Grove ranks among the worst in the country and has numerous federal violations. The investigative report shares horrible stories of residents at the Union Grove home not being given water, residents being given medication by mistake, residents suffering abuse, and more. I trust you agree that this kind of treatment of our veterans is unacceptable. Our veterans deserve the highest quality of care, and this level of mistreatment cannot be tolerated.
The quality of care at this facility has long been a concern of mine and of the people of Wisconsin’s First Congressional District. For additional background, back in 2020, I made multiple inquiries highlighting issues the Union Grove home was facing regarding cases and deaths of veterans infected with COVID-19. At that time, I wrote the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) asking for a review of this facility. At that time my office was then notified that federal officials offered consultation and staffing assistance to veterans’ home at Union Grove, but that offer of assistance was declined. Given that staffing levels have long been, and continues to be, a major concern at the facility, I then sent a subsequent letter to the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) asking why this assistance was turned down from the VA.
It is now abundantly clear that the veteran’s home in Union Grove has much larger issues than even I and the people who reached out to me were reporting in 2020.
While I am aware that this is a state-run facility, I ask you to review the concerns outlined in the article and take all appropriate action necessary to ensure the proper treatment of veterans in the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and everything you do to take care for America’s heroes
A copy of the full text of the letter can be found here.
Congressman Steil’s statement in response to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s investigative report can be found here.
Congressman Bryan Steil represents Union Grove in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District.
On September 4, 2020, Steil wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to investigate the coronavirus outbreak at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove. To read the full letter, click here.
On November 18, 2020, Steil received a response to the request from the U.S. DVA noting that federal officials offered consultations and staffing assistance to the state veterans home in May. That offer was declined until August, after the outbreak occurred. To read more about this response, click here.
On November 23, 2020, Steil wrote a letter to Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Mary Kolar regarding the increase in coronavirus outbreaks and requesting a response regarding the federal assistance declined by state officials. To read the full letter, click here.
On December 9, 2020, Steil received a response from the Wisconsin DVA stating steps the State of Wisconsin has taken to combat the coronavirus without mentioning staffing assistance requested. To read the full letter in response to Steil, click here.
On May 26, 2022, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an investigative report looking into the numerous Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) violations at the Veterans Home at Union Grove. Union Grove’s violation record ranks 27th out of 343 facilities in Wisconsin. Out of 117 CMS-certified state veterans families, Union Grove ranked in the top five for having the most violations and fines. To read the full investigative report, click here.