Are Veterans At Risk of Nursing Home Abuse?
Yes — Veterans can fall victim to nursing home abuse. Cases of abuse have been reported at both private facilities and those operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Nursing home abuse comes in many forms such as physical harm, financial exploitation, and even sexual battery.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (U.S. GAO) received hundreds of allegations that elderly veterans had suffered from abuse between 1990 and 2010.
Thankfully, veterans and loved ones can report nursing home abuse to get help and stay safe. There are both general and veteran-specific reporting options available. Veterans and family members can also work with nursing home lawyers to pursue justice and financial aid.
Causes of Nursing Home Veteran Abuse
Cases of veteran abuse and neglect can stem from any number of problems in a nursing home.
Common causes include:
- Poor hiring and training: A lack of training can prevent nursing home staff from properly caring for residents. In extreme cases, long-term care facilities without adequate screening protocols in place may hire caregivers unfit for the job, such as convicted felons.
- Staff stress levels: Caregiving can be a stressful job, and disrespectful staff members may take out their frustrations by yelling at or hitting residents.
- Understaffing: If there are not enough staff members to properly care for nursing home residents, it increases staff stress and contributes to an abusive environment.
Former service members may also be at a higher risk of elder or nursing home abuse if they have any of the following health problems.
Issues that increase the risk of veteran abuse include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Physical and/or mental health disorders
- Substance use disorder (alcohol/drug abuse)
Types of Veterans Abuse and Neglect
Physical nursing home abuse includes hitting, kicking, shoving, and other forms of physical assault. Physical abuse may cause bruises, cuts, broken bones, or other injuries.
In 2017, a disabled veteran claimed the staff at a veterans home in Alabama gave him two black eyes. He became suicidal following this incident and died a year later. The state’s Veterans Affairs Commissioner called on the Alabama Department of Public Health to investigate the veteran abuse claim in 2019.
Emotional nursing home abuse occurs when staff members threaten, shout at, or otherwise bully residents. Emotional abuse can cause residents to become fearful, anxious, and depressed.
That said, emotional veteran abuse is not limited to verbal threats. In 2014, staff members laughed as a dying World War II veteran cried out for help. He couldn’t breathe, but the staff took no action. The veteran’s family later filed a lawsuit for wrongful death to get some closure.
Sexual nursing home abuse includes unwanted kissing or touching of genitals, or rape. This form of nursing home abuse can be both physically and emotionally devastating for residents and their families.
As of 2020, roughly 90% of veterans are male, and most sexual abuse cases in nursing homes involve female residents. However, sexual abuse can happen to any nursing home resident — male or female.
Financial abuse occurs when another person steals an older adult’s money or other valuable assets. Veterans are at additional risk if they receive VA financial benefits, as these can be targeted and exploited.
In 2016, a registered nurse at a veterans home was arrested after allegedly stealing credit cards and cash from a resident. She was charged with larceny and stealing a financial transaction device.
Neglect occurs when staff members or caregivers fail to meet the needs of residents. Nursing home neglect can be just as dangerous as veteran abuse if it is not addressed quickly.
A 2019 report claimed that a veterans nursing home in Alabama was severely neglecting its residents.
The report noted:
- A nurse did not provide CPR to a veteran who had no pulse
- Bed bugs and skin mites were spread throughout the facility
- One veteran developed bedsores allegedly due to neglect
- Veterans were fed meals that did not follow doctor’s recommendations
Preventing Veteran Abuse in Nursing Homes
Though veteran abuse in nursing homes can be devastating, it also can be prevented. Learn how to keep veterans safe below.
Assess the Nursing Home Beforehand
Before a veteran moves into a nursing home, do some research to find the best facility for them. Tools — such as Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare — rank facilities based on care quality. Nursing Home Compare also notes if facilities have recently been cited for abuse or neglect.
Check In With the Resident Regularly
Family members and loved ones can visit a veteran in a nursing home to help make sure they aren’t being abused. With regular visits, families will hopefully notice any possible signs of abuse early on. They can then take action to prevent the problem from worsening.
Raise Awareness About Veteran Abuse
Raising awareness about the mistreatment of veterans in nursing homes can help protect others from suffering. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) encourage telling others about the signs of elder abuse and how to take action against them.
How To Report Veteran Nursing Home Abuse
It’s in the best interest of a veteran to report nursing home abuse. Filing a report can start an investigation to catch the abusers and prevent more harm. Even if you aren’t totally sure whether veteran abuse or neglect has occurred, it is helpful to file a report just in case.
The U.S. Department of Justice recommends:
- Calling 911
- Calling 1-800-4880-8244 or emailing [email protected] to report misuse of VA benefits
- Contacting the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-TALK and press 1)
- Reaching out to your local Adult Protective Services (APS)
You can also report veteran nursing home abuse to a skilled attorney. Nursing home abuse lawyers can help you take legal action against facilities and staff members. They can also help you pursue financial compensation for your loved one’s injuries and medical care.
Next Steps for Veterans and Loved Ones
If you or a loved one is a veteran who has suffered nursing home abuse, don’t wait. After reporting the abuse to the proper authorities, reach out to us to get a free case review to learn more about your legal options.
You may be entitled to compensation to cover medical bills and other expenses. Our caring advocates are standing by to help you right now. However, time is limited to access financial compensation. Don’t miss your chance — take action today.