Retired Army Colonel and former Vietnam Veteran platoon leader with 1st Air Cavalry, Joe Abodeley, asked if I would post this letter verbatim. I know Joey Strickland, and know what he has done for the Veterans of Arizona. Class act, and highly respected by his fellow veterans. This saga will surely continue into the summer and provide piles of material for the media. Ain’t Arizona great? Main street in Tombstone is alive and well. Place your bets now. The Colonel or the Governor? I say the Colonel in round 3!
As you know, Joey Strickland was unceremoniously forced to resign as Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans Services for non-meritorious reasons. As I predicted, the issue would become OBE (overcome by events). Attempts to reason with the governor and her chief of staff were futile and the “Joey’s a good guy” messages simply did not cut it. Neither the veterans’ community nor the media emphasized the outrageousness of the coerced resignation. The veterans’ community was exposed as being ineffectual—they did not persuade the governor to reinstate Joey. We all know the good that Joey did for the veterans’ community. Most recently, he was a “partner” nationally and locally in honoring the largest segment of the veterans’ community—Vietnam veterans. Vietnam veterans are used to being cheated, dishonored, maligned, and betrayed—and Joey participated in honoring all veterans, but in particular the Vietnam veterans. Joey Strickland is out; he is history as the Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans Services. He will move on and continue to serve and do well because he is a good man. The governor’s chief of staff, Scott Smith, called a meeting for next Wednesday for selected members of the veterans’ community. What can be the purpose of this meeting? We’ll see. But Joey is gone, and in my view very few really fought for Joey. Not the veterans. Not the politicians who profess to love veterans. Not all the organizations who took money for their projects or events. Life goes on, and we’ll all move forward, and so will Joey. But the state of Arizona veterans’ community (such as it is) is far worse off.