Dear Ms. Vicki,
I read your column all the time. I am a little fearful in writing to you because I have active lawsuits against the Navy and against a contract company for wrongful termination and other matters.
The reason I am writing to you is because I know you expose wrongdoing and probably have a louder voice to get laws or policies changed.
I have watched commanding officers and senior enlisted personnel get away with false statements, discrimination, ignoring policy and procedures, orchestrating fabricated counseling records and ignoring complaints made by an entire clinic staff.
I have watched seven people quit their jobs, two people be suspended wrongfully, one person terminated wrongfully, one person leave to save his career, and a handful of petty officers requesting (and being denied) transfer out of the clinic because of the hostile work environment -- all within a three-year period.
I had to get a congressman's office involved just to get the Inspector General's (IG) office to take my allegations seriously. My IG investigations have been going on for more than two years.
-- Terminated and Tearful
I am very sorry to hear about your situation. Since graduate school, I have only worked as a contractor for the Defense Department. You bring up some interesting concerns.
What I have learned working for contractors is that contractors don't want their employees to make any waves at all. They want you to go to work, do your job, and keep your mouth closed. I've also learned that there are some good contractors with the DoD and there are some horrible ones.
With that said, I always advise military spouses and other civilians to weigh their options carefully before just accepting any job. Many times, people will take a position thinking only of the salary and the benefits. Before they know it, they are working in a very dysfunctional place, with dysfunctional leaders and a dysfunctional staff.
I once accepted a position as a clinician in a behavioral health department, and I resigned after only two weeks. Yes, we needed the income, but I will not work anywhere that is dysfunctional.
I'm glad that you came forward and that you filed IG complaints, solicited the help of your congressman and that you are receiving legal advice. No doubt, there are others who have also reported the same things you reported. Just hang in there!
My last piece of advice is for you to do some self-care and spend a lot of time with caring family and friends who will be supportive. This is a very stressful time and could even become depressing for you. You need people around who can help you.
Keep in touch when you can.
-- Ms. Vicki