Many of you may have been privy to the email that Mrs. Patricia Hopper sent to members of the Board of Directors of the National League of Families (NLF) on Tuesday outlining the situation of the apparent illegal elections that took place last month within the NLF. If you did not, read it here: Hopper Letter to NLF Officers. Mrs. Hopper did a phenomenal job of explaining the illegal nature of the elections and how it needed to be rectified in order for the organization to move forward in an ethical and legal fashion.
To summarize, AMG knowingly allowed Susie Harvey, who is no longer a legal family member, to continue in a family member status and run for the Board of Directors of the NLF after Ms. Harvey remarried (twice) and severed her legal relationship with her now ex-brother-in-law SSG Stephen Geist, USA who is still POW/MIA.
Ms. Harvey erroneously argued that because she had been given some sort of power of attorney from her ex-husband to represent him in the POW/MIA case of his brother, SSG Geist, somehow makes her the PNOK and re-establishes her status as a family member. After reviewing the NLF’s by-laws for a definition of a family member and after speaking with several attorneys and paralegals (we live in different states) not one supported the NLF’s stance on Ms. Harvey being a legal family member per the law. The NLF even considers Harvey’s third and present husband a family member as well.
Interestingly enough, we also received an email from a wife of a missing man who, in the mid 80’s, after almost two decades of waiting for her husband to come back from Vietnam, finally remarried. When she called the NLF offices and spoke with AMG regarding a question in the paperwork to renew her NLF membership, AMG was quick to inform her that now that she had remarried she was no longer a family member. She was then told that if she wanted to continue as a member of the NLF, it would have to be as an associate member, not a family member.
UPDATE: We just received an email (8/1/11) from the POW/MIA wife mentioned above. She asked that we correct the piece with the following fact. Apparently AMG cashed her check for associate membership after their phone conversation yet never put her on the mailing list even as an associate member. So, AMG pulled a “take the money and run.” Interestingly enough, money will be the theme of our next post.
This clearly shows that AMG cherry-picks through the by-laws of the NLF and uses them to her advantage when she pleases with no regard for the by-laws of the organization that has supplied her with a salary, pension and many other benefits over the years. This also presents a complete disregard for the rationale for having by-laws in the first place – to prevent individuals from randomly making decisions for their personal benefit, not those of the organization and its membership.
As if this all weren’t enough, we received a forward of the email reply that was sent to Mrs. Hopper from the NLF’s Mark Stephensen:
It is clear that Mr. Stephensen shares the same disregard for the by-laws of the NLF and the organization’s membership as AMG. I wonder what Mr. Stephensen thinks about the family member who contacted us above about being downgraded to an associate member after she remarried per AMG?
If Mr. Stephensen sees respecting and clearly adhering to the by-laws of the NLF as “irrelevant, baseless and without merit” then we certainly have to question his agenda as well. If an NLF Board Member sees the important work of the Board to be something outside of enforcing the by-laws and responding professionally to the real concerns of its membership, it is no wonder that so many family members have disassociated themselves from the NLF. Year after year, cavalier behavior like this toward members is the reason why so many families felt disenfranchised by those who were purportedly representing them.
One final thought, could this little fiasco be the reason why, during the Membership Meeting last week in DC, the Board floated the idea out there to allow concerned citizens to have family member status within the NLF? While no one seconded the motion and even Dick Childress stood up and said he didn’t agree with it, was the Board already aware of their faux pas and looking for a backdoor to grandfather in their mistake? After decades with the legal definition of family member being enforced – the timing of this is suspect to say the very least.
Mr. Stephensen certainly proves that it is time for a change at the NLF.