Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How the values I learned in the Military got me fired

Dear Employer,

            I have been pondering the idea of writing a letter to you after you let me go on 7/15/2015. I knew that it would not make a difference to you so I decided to write and post it here, so that my fellow Veterans and Social Workers can see how you have turned a vulnerable population in dollar signs. 

             When I came and talked to you about ethical conflicts that I had with the way you handled a very serious situation you chose to terminate me rather than understand the egregiousness of your decision. You failed to uphold the ethical principles and ethical standards for a population of individuals we are supposed to protect, advocate for and be role models too.
            How do you ask? Well, you made the decision to allow an individual with numerous mental deficits stay the night with a convicted sexual offender and then when you found out that that individual had been “possibly molested or raped or taken advantage of” you  used me as your scape goat.  When potential information came forward that this was not an isolated incident and may have been happening for a while you simply shrugged it off saying “how can we know if the victim is really telling the truth, because of his mental state” you also stated that “this happened a long time ago.”  After the family became enraged you simply hid and allowed your staff to take the brunt of the repercussions. That Sir is not leadership that is cowardice.
            When a victim of sexual or physical abuse comes forward to law enforcement they are simply not told “well sir/ma’am it happened a long time ago”. Instead, proactive measures are taken to ensure those who allowed it or perpetrated the crime are held accountable. When the criminal in this case could not pass two polygraph tests you still did nothing.
            When I received my Master’s Degree in Social Work I agreed to adhere to ethics and standards set forth by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). These were presented in every class, role playing scenarios and re-enforced in the 1100 hours of clinical internships I participated in. The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. Professional ethics are at the core of social work. The profession has an obligation to articulate its basic values, ethical principles, and ethical standards. The NASW Code of Ethics sets forth these values, principles, and standards to guide social workers’ conduct. The Code is relevant to all social workers and social work students, regardless of their professional functions, the settings in which they work, or the populations they serve. (NASW)
My example to you is in Ethics is:
Value: Integrity - Social workers are continually aware of the profession’s mission, values, ethical principles, and ethical standards and practice in a manner consistent with them. Social workers act honestly and responsibly and promote ethical practices on the part of the organizations with which they are affiliated.
My example to you in the Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities to Clients is:
1.01 Commitment to Clients: Social workers’ primary responsibility is to promote the well-being of clients. In general, clients’ interests are primary. However, social workers’ responsibility to the larger society or specific legal obligations may on limited occasions supersede the loyalty owed clients, and clients should be so advised.
My final example to you is in the area of NASW compromised standards and ethics is:

6.04 Social and Political Action –
            (d) Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.

            We (I say we because in the military we take responsibility for our actions or inactions) failed to do that Sir and for bringing it to your attention I was fired….
            These principles of conduct were not new to me for 22 years I modeled these in foreign countries and places where the United States was not a welcomed visitor. These are known and the Seven Army Values:
Loyalty - Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. constitution, the Army, and other soldiers.
Be loyal to the nation and its heritage.
Duty - Fulfill your obligations. Accept responsibility for your own actions and those entrusted to your care.
Respect - Rely upon the golden rule. How we consider others reflects upon each of us, both personally and as a professional organization.
Selfless Service - Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own. Selfless service leads to organizational teamwork and encompasses discipline, self-control and faith in the system.
Honor - Live up to all the Army values.
Integrity - Do what is right, legally and morally. Be willing to do what is right even when no one is looking. It is our "moral compass" an inner voice.
Personal Courage - Our ability to face fear, danger, or adversity, both physical and moral courage.

            Has the civilian society lost its moral compass? Are people with disabilities simply seen as equity? When a Director, Program Manager or Leader of any sort is questioned by a subordinate or employee about the morality of a decision is it easier to avoid the problem and just get rid of it? I think so…I now understand why veterans these days are finding it hard to maintain or even get a job in this society. Because we are not afraid “to do the right thing” we are not afraid to “accept responsibility for our actions” we are not afraid to “stand up for what is right” and I think that scares employers.  

            Case in point: I retired after 22 years in the military. I hold the nation’s 3rd highest award for Valor the Bronze Star with Combat “V”, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Social Work has this helped me find a job? NO, I believe that it has prevented me from even getting an interview. My military service, and the fact that I have been to combat plus I am a disabled veteran with tBI’s prevents me from even getting in the door. I applied for an interviewed for a Vocational Rehabilitation position for the State of Idaho, I did not get it. Seriously I am a disabled veteran and I was not qualified to work with people with disabilities?

            Where did we go wrong? Society sees veterans as an enigma something that can’t be understood, something that people don’t want to understand and something that is volatile “hey that guy’s a vet watch out he may come back and shoot us all.” But we are not, we are people who are trying to fit back into society; we are simply people and families trying to transition back onto the civilian world. I feel disappointed that I fought and did the dirty work for our country to come back and be shit upon.

            So in reality maybe you did me a favor by letting me go, maybe you did you a favor by not having to look at yourself in the mirror and see that you allowed something so sinful to happen. But you won’t because your paycheck as an administrator and your new Lexus will help you forget.

            I, Sir will not forget because I will continue to speak for those who can’t and I will continue to bring THEIR value as people not as income to the fore front!!!