Nursing homes mislead the end user by promoting “private rooms.” Misleading because, in fact, that only means the room has a door on it. There is no privacy unless those that have access respect the sanctity of privacy.

I have been a resident of Sitter and Barfoot Veterans Care Center for three years and most of that time “privacy” has been a condition that has had to be regularly requested and often denied. Only after three years do I have a modicum of real privacy.


Constant guidance and reinforcement have resulted in acceptance of my desire for privacy. If someone wishes access to my “home,” they knock and ask for permission before entering; it is an essential of courtesy, dignity, and respect. Still, I still have a few that just knock and open the door; much to my displeasure.

Not asking for permission has resulted in friction between me and factions of employees. Some staff members think that I am here for their convenience. The reality is that they are here for my benefit, and they are to adhere to my expectations of privacy.

I have had doctors, staff, and registered nurses just enter my room whether the door be opened or closed. They have been met with displeasure.

Employees of nursing homes should be treated no differently than the contractor you hired to cut your grass, clean your pool, fix your plumbing or the cable guy. You would not expect someone you hired to come to your home and interrupt your dinner nor would you expect them just to walk into your house without knocking. The nursing home staff works for the resident and is hired to perform a service. It is no different. It is a matter of respect.

Unlike life outside a nursing home, once inside you have to demand respect. Nursing homes have the mistaken view that the resident is there for their benefit, not the other way around. Nursing homes control meals, medication, and comfort. Privacy is the last remnant removed from the control of the resident.

Nursing homes will attempt total control of the resident in any fashion they can. However, privacy is not their domain. Privacy is one area that the resident has control, and it should be made clear to the nursing home from the beginning.

Private rooms are not private if everyone one has unfettered and uncontested access.





One only has to look around the room to be struck with the absence of feeling or emotion.

The forgotten souls staring into the emptiness of space. Staring blankly in the direction of the dark TV screen.

Some with chins on their chest — asleep. Others just sleeping slumped in their wheelchairs.

There is no dialog between those thrown into this arena. Some don’t know where they are or why they are there.

Boredom is the activity of the day….Every day.

Those that appear to be alert look as if they are searching motionless; staring into the future that is now behind them.

Some cross their arms on the table and put their heads down to sleep.

Emptiness fills the room.

Bodies and minds drained of all feeling but pain.

These are the souls that are considered “fall risks” and require constant observation.

The escape is the same for those that are lower risks. They sit expressionless in their wheelchairs in the hallways and stare into the emptiness of their mind.

Is it light?

Is it dark?

Is it good or is it bad?

What do they think?

Do they think?

Are they looking toward the future?

Are they looking forward to the past?

To the observer it looks like a gathering of gloom.

Despair and loneliness seep from the listless and sleeping bodies.

An aide reads the newspaper aloud. Only one listens. To the rest, they are unaware.

One lying reclined on a chair; face covered with a towel to block out reality.

There is an absence of color that pours from the room.

They are all wrapped in invisible black shrouds waiting to die.

This is my future… This is what I have to look forward to.





In April of 2013, I experienced repeated abuses in the restricted parking at the McGuire VA Hospital. The handicapped crosswalks were blocked with automobiles illegally occupying those designated areas. I went to the police office and lodged a formal complaint. In this instance, the officer that responded to my complaint refused to ticket the offending vehicle.

I wrote a letter to the interim director, David Budinger. His response, in writing, was that because of the shortage of parking spaces the Veterans Police had adopted a system of “compliance enforcement.” That term was never explained to me, but clearly it meant no enforcement at all.

The conditions continued until April of 2014. I wrote a second letter to the new Director of the hospital, John Brandecker:

April 7, 2014

John Brandecker,
Director, Hunter Holmes McGuire VAMC
1201 Broad Rock Boulevard
Richmond, Va. 23249

Mr. Brandecker:

You are just one more failure in an unresponsive Department of Veterans Affairs.

You, as director, should be ashamed to have under your leadership, a law enforcement department that discriminates against a disabled veteran and fails to enforce traffic laws.

I have dedicated my time, professionalism, and intellect to serve the veterans and family members at McGuire Veterans Medical Center. Under your leadership, I have been unnecessarily inconvenienced and discriminated against by the Department of Veterans Affairs Police Department. The parking problem exists because of poor management and planning. That does not exempt you from the mandated laws and the requirements associated with enforcement. The Department of Veterans affairs chose to discriminate against the disabled as the avenue of least resistance. You have allowed this discriminatory practice to establish itself, and it has become the norm. To subject those that devote their energies and resources to assist veterans and family members to such abuse and ridicule is contemptible.


Robert E. Carr
cc: Mrs. Michelle Obama
Honorable Tim Kaine
Office of the Inspector General

This letter apparently hit a nerve.

My heated verbal encounter with the Police Chief and his pathetic defense of the “compliance enforcement” doctrine did not resonate well with the Director. He immediately changed the policy and placed orange cones in the wheelchair crosswalks.

The following is the net result.


Even police chiefs can be stupid!

I thank the Director, John Brandecker, for standing firm and in support of veterans that are wheelchair bound.



Hundreds of Medical professionals have been entering and exiting Ebola stricken areas for months. Only recently has the question of “quarantine” been raised.


The case in Spain is an example of a knee-jerk reaction at the expense of civil liberties, which resulted with the loss of a dog, Excalibur.
Unfortunately, Excalibur’s demise was the result of overreaction and not supported by scientific fact. This is further supported by Nurse Nina Pham’s dog Bentley.

We would be naïve to think that all medical personnel with direct contact with Ebola stricken patients have been subjected to 21 day quarantine.

Those that think nurse Hickox should be placed in quarantine have bought into the fear mongering and paranoia presented by hyped up and uninformed mainstream media. There is no conclusive scientific evidence to support her being quarantined.

This is another example of government overreach, and criminal intimidation. Are we to deny the civil liberties to all those that treat the flu?

I applaud Kaci Hickox’s sacrifice and courage.