DIG DEEP...PUPPY DOWN DEEP
The Armed Forces Retirement Home Gulfport, MS, my home for 27 months (today, 17 February 2008, is the third anniversary of my voluntary departure as a resident), was not destroyed by hurricane Katrina, but by the incompetent chief operating officer, Mr. Tim Cox, who refused the facilities manager's requests for assistance to save the building after the nation's worst natural disaster. But that's not all. Hurricane Katrina is blamed for the destruction, but in fact it was doomed the day the COO took over--the real disaster that befell the military retirement home. He deliberately got rid of one of the best military officers I ever served under during my 20 year Naval career...LtCol Wendy VanDyke, USAF registered nurse, our Deputy Director. She had previously served with distinction in the administrations of presidents George Bush 41 and Clinton. She was on Clinton's staff and traveled with the president on Air Force One. She was no skylarker, she was the consummate professional; she played no favorites. Her compassion and inclusion of the resident in decisionmaking for the betterment of the Home endeared her to almost everyone...except the Cox Crew. LtCol VanDyke put residents above all and therefore was targeted by Cox/Ulmer early on for removal. The entire process was a nightmare. The way in which it transpired was cruel and inhuman, in fact the DOD IG investigation H05L95546042 dated 26Sep05 (heavily redacted 35-page report available by searching DOD IG COX and finding it in the reading room) used those very words in her treatment by Cox. We residents lost possibly the greatest asset we ever had due to Cox's 'leadership.' She was transferred (by higher authority, probably Donald Rumsfeld himself since Cox stated to the investigators that he had a 'personal reporting status' with the SecDef.) and denied promotion, forced to retire. She had high hopes of fighting the Cox machine but no one stood up to defend her, not even the Department of the Navy, nor the Department of the Air Force. She had filed two separate Article 138's UCMJ against Cox's Director of the Gulfport facility, Navy Captain Jerald A. Ulmer, but it was determined by higher authority that the directorship of the Home was not a Naval Command. Indeed, we have documentation that it is, and that the Director is authorized to wear the Naval Command Insignia and therefore her Article 138 UCMJ (both of them) were legitimate. Yet she's out, and Cox's 'punishment' has never been made public. It was nothing more than a slap on the wrist, I'm sure, since it came from the same source who helped him get rid of LtCol VanDyke, the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Personnel and Readiness. That is documented in the Report, yet collusion is denied by Ms. Leslye Arsht, now serving as Cox's boss. Her treatment was so horrendous that it was deemed 'cruel and unusual punishment' by the DOD IG. This was during the time of the AbuGhraib scandal, but we couldn't get a word out to the news media (with the exception of the initial contact of WLOX and SunHerald by myself on January 11, 2005). She spent a total of 60 days virtually imprisoned in her on-site home with her family, forbidden to enter the Resident Tower or interact with the residents in any way while the charges of 'insubordination' were being 'investigated.' The 'investigation,' according to the DOD IG report, was nothing more than a 'foregone conclusion' reached by the Cox/Ulmer team and denied LtCol VanDyke her right to due process. They called her isolation 'administrative leave.' There is no such thing in military life. Her isolation, removal of authority, banishment from the resident tower (with the exception of retrieving her mail, and then escorted by Security), caused her undue pain, humiliation, and embarrassment and deprived the residents of the only true leader/administrator in the Agency! She was denied due process, not given the opportunity to face her accuser, and it was not by accident, it was by design. Her replacement was aboard (Mr. Ken Brown, RN) and his position was subordinate to hers, yet he was given kid glove treatment (slated for promotion to Director) while she endured the agony. She was not the only casualty--we lost our staff doctors, dedicated nurses, and other staff, benefits, and services. Other replacements for personnel slated to be embarrassed and cut were also aboard. Other cuts even forced the Chaplain out. We lost it all, and it was not Katrina's fault. It is now exactly three years since I left the Home but I am still fighting for justice for LtCol Vandyke, USAF (Ret.) and to rid the Home of Cox and company. Now a good chance has surfaced, with the Warr Home and federal inquiry via a Grand Jury. If they dig deeply enough, they should uncover some irregularities that could cost Cox his job (amen to that). Questions about the Homes bought by the Warrs (Brent and his dad) from a deal with Cox, and the subsequent government grant awarded to Brent Warr, are bound to surface. Why did Cox sell the mansions and the AFRH land for so little--well below the fair market value for a beachfront property? Why were the boundaries changed--why does the deed not have a 'back boundary'? A political 'rush' deal would have meant the loss of revenue for the AFRH Trust Fund, to the tune of at least $1 million. That means a loss to the veterans and military retirees who have served their country honorably. I am sure that Cox wanted to get rid of the property altogether, and that his haste and desire to do so caused a loss to the AFRH Trust Fund. By the way, there are no financial audit records for the years 2003/2004, according to Cox. I wonder why? . It is reported (unconfirmed) that the AFRH bought the land for up to $6.4 million and sold it for $1 million. Only Brent Warr's property has the Department of Agriculture listed...why not his dad's too? What connection does the Department of Agriculture have with property owned by the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, MS? The former Naval Home. If you have any interest in the Home remaining one connected with the military and a return to the philosophy of the military services helping its own, please stay in touch with the following local news: http://www.GulfCoastNews.com and http://www.navyafrhspook.blogspot.com We don't need the likes of Tim Cox; we need a military presence to restore and preserve the military history and tradition within our Home. Tim Cox never served a day in the military, and his idea of leadership showed the very first time I heard him speak to about 150 of us, in late 2002 in our auditorium assembly, where he berated a wheelchairbound resident (Charles) who raised from his chair to ask a question, and was told to "Sit Down! Shut Up. I'm the BOSS!" Yet he claimed that LtCol VanDyke failed in her leadership. Hell no, she didn't. She put residents FIRST! To maintain military leadership and prevent the new AFRH Gulfport from becoming a haven for a few and nightmare for many without the presence of military in decision-making positions, we need your help to fight Mr. Cox and save our home. This is no way to treat a lady, no way to run a venerated institution of military heroes, no job for a civilian who just doesn't get it. Help us put the military back into the military retirement home. We deserve better!
Labels: anniversary pankey