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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/9/15

America's Veterans Under Seige by Feds

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President Obama stated in last year's Veteran's Day proclamation -- "As a nation, we must ensure that every veteran has the chance to share in the opportunity he or she helped to defend." Still, even despite the President's pronouncement, far too many of our returning military combat employment discrimination when seeking federal-government jobs. Moreover, some qualified veterans who unearth a coveted federal position face incessant abuse, harassment and retaliation.

According to a NBC news article, veterans face job bias and the "federal government is the biggest offender." Despite the Notification and Federal Employee Anti-discrimination and Retaliation (No FEAR) Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights (USERRA) Act, federal officials continue to discriminate against our returning service men and women. Disturbingly, military service-connected discrimination exists. Many of America's sons and daughters, who have rendered the highest service any American can offer, encounter reprisal daily in the federal workplace. However, black veterans are more likely to confront "race" discrimination in addition to service-connected bias.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) report discloses at (Table 7) that "Black/African Americans" leads the "bases" in "race" complaints filed. The following nine (9) troubling accounts disclose some of the many challenges African-American veterans encounter in federal agencies after returning stateside to use their talents to power America's economic engine.

Karl McDonald, a Marine Corps veteran, served in Iraq, Desert Storm and Operation Provide Comfort. For over 14 years, he worked as a contractor shift supervisor security until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) terminated him after he filed an EEO complaint. McDonald reported how NRC's contracting officer's technical representative --GARY SIMPLER--engaged in racial harassment and made racial remarks about African Americans. U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski requested an investigation into McDonald's claims, which spurred the NRC's Office of Inspector General investigation (OIG). The OIG found that inappropriate comments had been made to McDonald and other NRC minority contract security guards. McDonald has a pending lawsuit against Gary Simpler in U.S. District Court.

Felicia Townsend Murphy, now deceased, served in the U.S. Air Force from 1982 to 2004. She died after a routine procedure at the Department of Army's Brooke Medical Center. According to veteran Louis Murphy, a widower due to the Army's negligence, "the Department used his late wife as a guinea pig to train military residents and did not value the life of an African American woman, who served her country." Louis says, a Edward Robert Kost was named in the wrongful medical death complaint of his deceased wife and that the Army engaged in negligence, abuse, and cover-up. According to Louis Murphy, the Department of Army settled the case; however, Army officials failed to do a complete investigation as promised.

Veteran Felicia Murphy (Pictured)
Veteran Felicia Murphy (Pictured)
(Image by Courtesy of Veteran Louis Murphy)
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Ralph Saunders, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is a former employee with the Veterans Affairs' (VA) New Orleans Medical Center. Saunders says, VA personnel destroyed his medical documents, placed him on Absent Without Leave, and subjected him to endless reprisal after he filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint against a manager who had denied him requested time off from work to accommodate his wife's heart-surgery operation. EEOC records reflect that Saunders prevailed in his discrimination complaint (Saunders v Shinseki, Case Number 200L-0629-2004-100828). In 2005, The EEOC found managers (Cassandra Holiday, Jeanette Butler, and Linda Cosey) guilty of "abusing the rules" and "retaliating against Saunders for his protected EEO activity." Now, ten years later, Saunders says "after being strong-armed out his federal position, he must challenge the VA on a settlement breach."

Isaac Decatur, a U.S. Navy veteran, served at VA for eighteen years until federal officials fired him after he filed an EEO complaint. VA denied Mr. Decatur annual leave, subjected him to reprisal and put him on a "blacklist" that targeted him for removal of federal service. Eventually, the EEOC found VA managers guilty of discriminating against veteran Decatur. When Mr. Decatur wrote to President Obama to request an answer as to why the managers (Jeanette Butler, Larry Thomas and Maurice Troop) were never disciplined, the EEOC replied in a letter to Mr. Decatur: "The matters you are concerned with are preventative in nature. While EEOC orders agencies to consider; we have no authority to issue discipline." Decatur v Shinseki, 0120073404.

Sanita Simons, a U.S. Air Force veteran, resigned under duress she encountered at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). She had worked in Food Safety and Inspection Service's (FSIS) Employee Relations Division managing administrative grievances. Ms. Simons, who has pending complaints against the USDA, says her troubles began when her newly appointed supervisor Philip Brown inappropriately inquired and, for no apparent reason, about her service-connected disability. She asserts FSIS officials unlawfully changed her career appointment to a "term" appointment and then threatened to terminate her.

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Tanya Ward Jordan is the author of 17 STEPS: A Federal Employee's Guide For Tackling Workplace Discrimination. She serves as President and Founder of the Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C). C4C is an proactive non-profit self-help organization (more...)

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