Government, Health Care, and Human Resources

Snyder appoints director of Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency

May 11, 2016
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Snyder appoints chief legal counsel
James Redford. Courtesy state of Michigan

A former local judge is the new director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.

Snyder named James Robert Redford to the role last month.

Redford has been serving as the agency’s interim director since Feb. 19.

He replaced Jeff Barnes who had led the organization and resigned following “troubling” audits by the Michigan Office of the Auditor General at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, or GRHV.

Among the egregious findings, the audit found the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans was not properly staffed, safety procedures were not followed and complaints were not properly investigated, creating an environment of neglect and putting residents at risk.

Snyder said in two months as interim director, Redford has made “quick work” in addressing deficiencies within the agency and has shown great promise in the role.

“I knew Jim was the right person for the job, because of his steadfast commitment to his country and to the fellow sailors, soldiers, marines and airmen who have served with him,” Snyder said.

Redford served 28 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a captain in 2012. He received the Legion of Merit, six Navy and Marine Corps commendation medals and two Navy Achievement medals.

Redford was elected as a Kent County Circuit Court judge in 2002 and joined the Snyder administration in 2014 as chief legal counsel.

He is a member of the Walter Durkee American Legion Post 311 in Grand Rapids.

In the past two months, Redford has worked with Michigan Veteran Health System CEO Leslie Shanlian to strengthen the health system and update both state veterans homes.

The staff structure at GRHV has been re-organized to ensure “person-centered” care.

Five nursing positions have been created to assist in creating and updating comprehensive care plans. Complaints are now being addressed within 24 hours, with total resolution occurring within 72 hours.

To support these efforts, Redford has also been working closely with the Michigan Legislature to secure resources to address the findings identified by the audit, as well as new challenges that arise as GRHV continues to improve service delivery.

"I remain committed to continuous improvement at GRHV and throughout the agency," Redford said. "Together, we are working to create an environment that is respectful and caring, and we are doing so by holding ourselves to a higher standard."  

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