The Kansas Soldiers' Home at Fort Dodge hosted a Kansas Commission on Veteran's Affairs (KCVA) Commission meeting, Wednesday, June 19. New policies were on the agenda along with Power Point presentations of budget reports and most recent projects.
The meeting also offers residents and families of veterans 'open mic' time in which guest can address the KCVA council with any questions or concerns.
Staff present at the meeting include: Web Roth, Kansas Soldier's Home Superintendent; Steve Dunkin, KVH Superintendent; Gregg Burden, KCVA Executive Director; Commission member present: Mike Near, Chairman; Jim Buterbaugh, Vice-Chairman; Joy Moser, Commissioner, Charles Myers, Commissioner, and John Ryan, Commissioner.
Upon request for comments, guests quickly took to the mic.
While one veteran offered suggestions on how to make the Soldiers Home more esthetically appealing and another offered his appreciation towards Superintendent Webster Roth, other residents, including Fred Sanchez, voiced a more serious concern.
Dodge City Daily Globe
Sanchez, who didn't stand to take the mic, but remained in his third row seat, projected his question on an 'article he read' regarding a Legislative Division of Post Audit report on the Kansas Soldiers Home in Dodge City and the Kansas Veterans Home in Winfield. The article, specifically titled, 'Audit takes aim at Kansas facilities for veterans' by Travis Perry with Kansas Watchdog, details an audit concluding that the Kansas Soldiers Home was unable to properly account for $7.3 million in capital assets.
"Some purchases-such as a $600 televison-were made without prior approval, receiving authorization only after the money had already been spent..." The article reads. "Superintendents at both facilities also took business trips on their own accord, instead of obtaining prior approval from Gregg Burden, KCVA executive director..."
Burden addressed the audit's findings.
"At the time that the auditors conducted the audit about two years ago, the state had a new accounting system," Burden said. "The information wasn't true, there is no missing $7 million dollars, the new system wasn't reflecting the numbers correctly and that's where there was a disconnect."
"The Legislature has performed a post-audit that re-addressed the issue and it's been taken care of."
Sanchez, who appeared in agreement with Burden's response, said he only voiced this concern because for him, "It was a red flag."
While a general publicized-issue was addressed others expressed internal issues they've been continuously conflicted over.
A relative of a veteran and resident of Fort Dodge Soldiers home questioned miscellaneous charges on her billing statements , where she claims, upon request she has not received an itemized bill so she may better understand her charges.
"It has taken you all coming here for this issue to be clarified for me," She said. "I think I speak on behalf of many when I say there are billing issues and other financial issues that are not being addressed. I was told that I couldn't receive an itemized bill and a history of my payments but coincidentally today I was provided with all of that."
"Were not making excuses," Burden said. "Mistakes do happen, we've had problems and I am sorry it took coming to me to see results, but we've gone through a transition in new systems we've put in place; therefore our entire agency has gone through changes but we are addressing it now and we're getting it taken care of."
After the meeting adjourned, KCVA's Public Service Executive, Terry Fritz, was approached with further concerns from residents about the billing system and allegations of missing furniture.
"I plan on spending about a month here going through all of the inventory," Fritz said. "And in regards to billing, I will say that we've made in error in the monthly billing, I have been in two meetings this morning to address that issue. We will be working towards resolving this issue and we will".
Superintendent Web Roth did not immediately return requests for comment.