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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May, 2005, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Rumsfeld sued over veterans' home
Donald Rumsfeld
Plaintiffs say Mr Rumsfeld imposed excessive cuts on the home
Veterans at a 150-year-old Washington retirement home are suing the US defence secretary over budget cuts they say have harmed medical care standards.

Residents at the Armed Forces Retirement Home, managed by the Pentagon, say they can no longer get prescriptions or check-ups on site.

They say the measures have put their health in danger.

But a spokesman for the home said the changes have brought efficiencies and improvements to residents.

When you're playing football and you get hurt, they say 'suck it up' - we're just too old to suck it up any more
Homer Rutherford
Korean and Vietnam veteran
Chief financial officer Steve McManus said the aim was to create a foundation for the financial stability of the home, and the plaintiffs did not understand the changes.

The Pentagon has refused to comment on the specifics of the case, but a spokeswoman said the home's first priority was the safety of the residents.

'Not whining'

Sixteen veterans filed the suit, which they say is on behalf of all the 1,000-odd residents at the home.

At least 20 years' active service, and over 60 years old
Unable to earn a living because of a service-related disability
Unable to earn a living because of a non-service-related disability, and served in a war zone
Female veterans who served before 1948

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the home's chief operating office, Timothy Cox, have been named as defendants in the case.

The home, which was established for veterans in 1851, is legally bound to provide a minimum standard of on-site primary and long-term care, the suit says.

But an on-site pharmacy and treatment room have been closed, X-ray and electrocardiogram facilities removed, and the number of dentists on site reduced, it added.

Mr McManus countered that there was some confusion over primary care services ahead of the opening of a new clinic in July, and that residents would soon see positive changes.

However, Korea and Vietnam war veteran Homer Rutherford, 76, one of the plaintiffs, said their concerns were genuine.

"We're not waving the flag. We're not whining," he told Reuters news agency. "We're just trying to get someone to listen to us."

Complaints to Pentagon and Congressional officials had fallen on deaf ears, he said.

"When you're playing football and you get hurt, they say, 'Suck it up.' That's kind of their attitude. We're just too old to suck it up any more," he added.

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