JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Governor Eric Greitens is taking action after the results of an independent investigation into the embattled St. Louis Veterans Home found “serious” issues.
In a press conference held Monday morning outside the home, the Republican governor announced that he had replaced all five members of the Missouri Veterans Commission that had been appointed by the previous governor.
Greitens appointed Dr. John “Bucky” Buckner, Dr. José Dominguez, Meredith Knopp, Tim Noonan, and Tim Smith to serve on the Missouri Veterans’ Commission.
The Governor also stated that he believed that the commission should move to fire Rolando Carter, the director of the St. Louis home, as well as Missouri Veterans Commission director Larry Kay.
Following an investigation by the commission, Greitens had the Department of Public Safety investigate the alleged mistreatment of veterans at the home, as well as requested an investigation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which found the care to be satisfactory. But after the review from the VA, Harmony Healthcare International was commissioned to conduct an independent investigation.
“Big government failed these veterans. The Missouri Veterans Commission and VA told us that there was nothing wrong with these homes. Based on what the families told us, however, we were still concerned. So we launched an independent investigation. It found failures at the St. Louis Veterans Home that the VA and Missouri Veterans Commission missed or ignored,” said Governor Eric Greitens.
Over the course of a month, the team visited the home nine times, and conducted 144 interviews with staff, family members and veterans.
Their investigation found “substandard quality care,” revealing what the Governor’s Office described as “serious failures in the home.” They also found “triggers for immediate jeopardy,” which is defined as “a situation in which the provider’s noncompliance with one or more requirements of participation has caused, or is likely to cause, serious injury, harm, impairment, or death to a resident.”
You can read the executive summary of the report below.
The report also found many of the home’s policies to be inadequate. As a result, the Governor announced the launch of full investigations into each of Missouri’s six other veterans homes.
“We hold leaders responsible. Missouri’s veterans—our neighbors, friends, parents, and grandparents–were being hurt. When people are being hurt, and bureaucrats fail to act, fail to listen, and offer only excuses, we’re going to find out, and they are going to be fired,” Greitens stated.
Background on the newly appointed commissioners:
Dr. John Buckner is a Colonel (Ret.) in the United States Army. He is a member of The American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Reserve Officers Association, and the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. Dr. Buckner has received numerous military awards from his service, including the Meritorious Service Medal and the Combat Medic Badge. He is a general surgeon at the Ferrell-Duncan Clinic at CoxHealth in Springfield. Dr. Buckner holds a medical degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
Dr. José Dominguez is a retired Lieutenant Colonel, with service in the Missouri National Guard and the United States Army Reserves. He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Reserve Officers Association. Dr. Dominguez received the Meritorious Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Kosovo Campaign Medal, and the Combat Medic Badge. He is a surgeon at the Ferrell-Duncan Clinic at CoxHealth in Springfield and serves as a reserve deputy for the Greene County Sheriff’s Office. Dominguez holds a medical degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.
Meredith Knopp served as a Captain in the United States Army. She is a member of the Women’s Army Corps Veterans’ Association and the Association of the United States Army. She is a co-founder of HEROES Care, a non-profit that provides support for veterans and their families, and she is the Senior Vice President of Programs and Operations at The Mission Continues. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Michigan State University and has studied at Cambridge University.
Tim Noonan served as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps and is the founding board member of the Friends of Soldiers Memorial. He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at NICE Holdings. Previously, Noonan was the Vice President of Training Systems and Government Services at The Boeing Company in the Defense, Space, and Security division. Noonan graduated from the United States Naval Academy and holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Tim Smith served as a Sergeant in the United States Army. He is the owner and founder of Patriot Commercial Cleaning. He has been recognized as the Veteran Business Owner of the Year in Missouri and has hired over forty veteran employees. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a master’s degree in social work from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.