Authorities here at the Wisconsin Veteran Home in King have advised the veterans of their intention to remove all the locks from veterans’ rooms.
Randy Nitschke, a director at the office of Wisconsin Veterans Affairs, is responsible for the order. The reason for the directive was to alleviate harm to veterans in the event of fire or severe weather by providing easier access to rooms for rescue. The locks will be replaced by standard passage hardware.
This order by Nitschke was not well received by the veterans at King, to say the least. A member meeting at Ainswworth Hall was filled with angry veterans opposed to this action and they wanted to know who ordered it. When the adjutant failed to answer the question, the level of indignation increased shouting reasons why this order was not acceptable.
Here are some of the reasons given by veteran members; it is an invasion of privacy, possessions are at risk for theft by unauthorized or uninvited individuals, possessions at risk when veteran member is on furlough, and safety of female members at risk.
As to safety, members pointed out that the halls are designed to withstand extremely high winds and weather, all the member rooms and throughout the halls have sprinkler systems, and that all staff members either carry master keys or have access to them.
Further, it was pointed out that presently the staff knows which member may be in need of assistance in case of an emergency, and if locks were removed, additional staff would be required to monitor the halls 24 hours a day.
Incidentally, All the halls at the veterans home are smoke free.
As the policy is now, the members are reasonably certain that their valuables are safe when their doors are locked.
Veterans at King have all served their country bravely and with honor. Many faced death in battle and when they returned they resumed their lives in the community. They married, raised their children to be good citizens, were active in community affairs and were a good neighbor. Now they have aged and after years of hard work , dedication to their family and country, they find themselves unable to care for themselves as they should. The answer for many is to spare their children the difficulty of caring for them, so they came to King, where they can help each other and also receive additional care from a dedicated staff. They ask only respect for the experience and knowledge they bring with them and compassion for some frailities so they may live their final years with dignity and honor.