PHOENIX — The director of Arizona’s veterans services department was
forced out of his job this week after he hired a former state representative and
she then slammed women troops serving in combat.
Joey Strickland submitted his resignation effective immediately on Tuesday
after he was reprimanded for hiring former state Rep. Terri Proud after Gov. Jan
Brewer explicitly told him not to.
Proud lost her job this week after she said menstrual cycles might be too
problematic for women to be in combat. She made the remarks in an interview with
the University of Arizona’s Arizona-Sonora News Service about her plans for the
department’s women services.
Brewer’s spokesman Matt Benson said Proud’s comments are indicative of why
Brewer told Strickland not to hire her.
“He acted in disregard of those instructions,” Benson said. “Of all people,
Col. Strickland knows the ramifications of disregarding a direct order.”
Veterans services deputy director Robert Barnes was named interim director
until a permanent replacement is found, Benson said.
Proud, who served one term in the House and was slated to start working for the
department soon, drew criticism from veterans groups after she told a student
reporter for the Arizona-Sonora News Service that she had concerns about women
serving in combat.
“Women have certain things during the month I’m not sure they should be out
there dealing with. I don’t know how to address that topic in a very diplomatic
manner,” Proud told the student news service.
Activists complained about the quote to the governor, Proud said in a Facebook
post on Wednesday.
“I am so devastated,” Proud wrote. “Joey is a good man, he has done so much
for the Dept. and I have been a huge supporter of the Vets. I am so
Strickland began looking for a new assistant last year to oversee the
department’s women services. He expressed interest in Proud, who was serving as
a state representative at the time. Brewer did not like the idea, Benson said.
“About a year ago, Col. Strickland was given very specific instructions to
avoid hiring an individual that he was considering,” Benson said. “He chose to
do so anyway. Unfortunately, that individual’s judgment was on display this week
with some particularly ill-chosen public remarks regarding women in the
Benson would not say why Strickland was ordered not to hire Proud, a fellow
Republican who finished up her House term in January.
“What we have seen in the last few days is evidence of a lack of judgment.
That speaks to some of our concerns,” Benson said.
During her brief time in the House, Proud made waves for attacking mandates
that employer health plans cover contraception and sponsoring legislation
allowing public high schools in Arizona to offer an elective high school course
on the Bible. She also opposed the state’s redistricting commission.
Strickland was named veterans services director in 2008 after his predecessor,
Patrick Chorpenning Sr., was forced out amid allegations of neglect and
mismanagement. Chorpenning eventually pleaded guilty to conflict of interest and
violating procurement laws.
“When I came on-board I found an agency broken from misadministration, morale
among staff nonexistent and the Arizona State Veteran Home in Phoenix
dysfunctional,” Strickland wrote in his resignation letter.
An official with the Department of Veterans’ Services referred all requests for
comment to Brewer’s office on Wednesday.
Strickland retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel in 1994. He then was
appointed a colonel in the Louisiana National Guard, according to the veterans
services department’s website.
“Gov. Brewer is grateful for Col. Strickland’s years of honorable service to
our country and the state of Arizona,” Benson said.