The Final Article: What a Tangled Web We Weave

Susan Stephens speaking at the Savannah 2011 Memorial Day Ceremony (Photo Courtesy of SavannahNow.com)

As we have been highlighting over the past week or so, Susie/Susan Lowenthal-Geist-Ragan-Stephens-Harvey, a newly elected National League of Families (NLF) Board Member has two serious issues pending over her illegal status as a family member.  First, Ann Mills-Griffiths has knowingly allowed Susie to remain in a voting-right status as well as illegally run and subsequently hold a seat on the Board of the NLF.  AMG has made multiple arguments as to why Susie should remain in her new Board position as well as her illegal status as a family member- all of which are blatantly against NLF By-Laws.

Secondly, as we have documented in recent posts, Susie has also been portraying herself as a blood family member, the biological sister of US Army Special Forces SSG Stephen J. Geist.  Susie, in her first marriage, was married to SSG Geist’s brother, a marriage which dissolved sometime in the early 1990’s.  Susie has since remarried and divorced two more times and is presently married to husband No. 4, Allen Harvey.   Also as part of this imposture, Susie has also given the impression that she is much older than she truly is to add to the embellishment of her story as an MIA sister.

According to background checks and vital records, Susie was born in November 1959, making her approximately 51-year-old at the time of this posting.   As stated in previous articles, Susie would have been 8 years and 10 months old when SSG Geist went missing.  Keeping all of these vital statistics in mind, we would like to discuss, in detail, an article that appeared in The Frontline, the newspaper for Fort Stewart Army Post, located in Georgia, Susie’s present home state.

The article, dated September 4, 2008, tells Susie’s truly incredible story as the sister of one of the many men who never made it home.  You can read the article, in its entirety; Frontline 4 Sept 2008 News on MIA.   It starts out with a heart-wrenching story of a big brother who said good-bye to his then approximately 7 year-old sister as he left for Vietnam, “Sis, before I leave, I want you to know, if something happens to me, you cry for yourself.  Don’t cry for me because I am doing something I believe in and love.”

Based on her November 1959 date of birth, Susie was merely a child when SSG Geist left for Vietnam.  At that time she was certainly not yet his sister-in-law and obviously, not his biological sister.  In this article, Susie would like to give the readers the impression that she was in college at the time, which we know she could not have been; she was in elementary school.   Given her age, even if Stephen Geist had been a neighbor or family friend at the time, it is very hard to believe that a soldier of the magnitude of Special Forces would even think of saying something like that to a child.

Susie goes on to tell the reporter about the contents of the letters that Stephen sent home while in Vietnam.  It is quite possible that she had access to these letters at some point while she was married to Stephen’s brother. Yet, it is important to note that these were not letters sent to her but to Stephen’s biological family.

Next Susie tells of how the news arrived to “her parents” that Stephen never returned from his mission on September 26, 1967.  “My parents requested being told any bad news in person instead of receiving a letter or a phone call.  My mom saw the Army car come up with the chaplain and she knew instantly.”   As many of you know, at that time notices came via telegram and a few days later a local recruiter would come by the house to give the primary next of kin the details and what was being done to find the missing man.  There were no lists of choices that a family could pick from as to how they wanted to be notified.   Susie apparently chose to take advantage of the emotional imagery of men in uniform arriving at a family’s home.

Susie claims that in September of 1967 she was away from home in Pennsylvania attending college. (Remember, she would have only been 8 years-old at the time).  She spoke of the antiwar protests that were breaking out all over college campuses and details how an Army chaplain came to her dorm to tell her that her brother was missing.   Again, Susie shows her lack of knowledge of how a notification was handled in 1967.  If she had been Stephen’s sister, she would have never received the news from an Army chaplain, she was not the next-of-kin and it would have been the NOKs responsibility to notify the rest of the family of the situation.

Next Susie tells the reporter, “From then on I couldn’t go anywhere on campus without being singled out.”  Which is odd considering the fact that family members were routinely told to go on with life as usual and to share this information with no one because it could put their loved-one’s life in danger.  So, the idea that it was general knowledge on any college campus is again highly unlikely.   She tells of having been spit on and told to go back to Vietnam, take her parents with her and die because they were all baby killers.   Considering the fact that Susie wasn’t even in college at that time, this is one incredibly stereotypical tale to garner sympathy and admiration from the readers as well as the reporter.

It is worth mentioning again that this entire article is complete and utter fabrication.  Susie was not at college in 1967, she was a school girl just learning to read and write.  She never had a chaplain come to her dorm, she never experienced anti-war protesters in college nor was she ever singled out for being part of a POW/MIA family.  In all probability, at the age of 8, the name Geist meant nothing to her yet.  The part of her story that hit us here at The POW Warrior the hardest was the hoax of being spit on and told to go to Vietnam with her family and die with all the other baby killers. Feigning sentiments and events that others have truly experienced to pull at the heart-strings is, in a word, revolting.

While there are other aspects of this article that we would normally address; there is much more to discuss before closing the chapter on Susie for now.  Yet, most likely the ultimate slap in the face is Susie’s statement that she wants closure for her ‘brother’ by going on to say, “even if it is a jar of dirt.”  A jar of dirt?  Who among the families, from any war, would console themselves with simply dirt?  Who among us would accept DoD’s handling of a case in this manner?

Susie chatting with Sgt. Major Kenneth Preston, US Army at the 2009 Annual Meetings (Photo Courtesy of http://www.army.mil)

Now that we have shown the true Susie/Susan Lowenthal-Geist-Ragan-Stephens-Harvey the question remains, why does Ann Mills-Griffiths value this individual so much?  We may have an answer to that question.  It has been interesting to us as we researched Susie’s story that she regularly makes reference to being the president of the Georgia Committee for POW/MIA, Inc.  This non-profit organization was started in 1986 by Joanne Shirley and JoAnn Shaw.  The controversial website, www.miafacts.org, was the only place where we could find anything substantive on this non-profit.  This site belongs to retired US Army Col.  Joe Schlatter, a former senior DIA POW/MIA analyst and past Deputy Director of DPMO.  Schlatter adamantly denies the mindset that anyone was ever left behind after the Vietnam War.

Its main objective is the return of, or accounting for, missing servicemen. It furthers its goal through public awareness activities and relies completely on volunteers to produce a newsletter, public addresses, slide presentations, ceremonies, and to meet with elected officials about the POW/MIA issue. Georgia Committee officers have made numerous appearances on television and radio, and have traveled extensively, at their own expense, to appear on behalf of the POW/MIA issue. In addition, the Georgia Committee maintains close ties with the National League of Families, and disseminates League information to its membership.Funding for the Georgia Committee comes from membership dues, from the sale of POW/MIA memorabilia (POW bracelets, T-shirts, flags, etc.) and donations. Its average annual budget is approximately $8,000.

This is where things caught our attention.  The Georgia Committee for POW/MIA, Inc. has no website, no contact information anywhere online, not even an email address or phone number.  Based on the description given above, one would think that this non-profit would have more to share with the public.   In fact, even with all of the mention of this organization in Susie’s 30+ online articles and references; in 2010 this organization reported to the IRS that it had zero dollars in revenue and zero dollars in expenses.   These dollar amounts are supported both here, here and here on website that report on the IRS statements of non-profits.  Additionally, the address that is submitted to the IRS is simply a PO Box – most likely at a UPS Store or something of that nature.  There is no information on line anywhere  directing interested parties where to send donations or even contact the organization’s officials.

Therefore, how does a non-profit survive with no revenue, no expenditures and no assets?  Why is it that whenever Susie posted anything anywhere she listed both her position with the Georgia Committee for POW/MIA, Inc. as well as with the National League of Families?  Many would consider this somewhat of a conflict of interest.   Yet here is where it gets curious.  Instead,the contact information for the NLF is  given along with the links to the NLF website.   Keeping in mind our “Follow The Money” post a few weeks back; Is it possible that Susie is simply re-directing potential funds for her Georgia Committee right back to the NLF?

Imagine the innocent scenario at one of the many public events that Susie attends where a Vietnam Vet asks how he can help the Georgia Committee. Susie directs him to the NLF instead stating that her organization gives the majority of their monies to the NLF and that it would simplify things if he made a direct donation to the League.   Does Susie put up a table for the Georgia Committee at these events with a donation jar and simply forwards that money on to AMG?  The possibilities are endless.

In closing, we would hope that NLF members are insisting that the By-Laws be followed based on their true meaning, that Susie Stephens-Harvey and her present husband Allen be put in their rightful place as associate members and that the motions from the 2011 Annual Meetings which the Harveys either initiated or seconded be stricken from the record.   Replacing Susie on the Board is a must as well, whether a new election is held or by sliding the last candidate into Susie’s slot – that is something the entire Board can decide.

We would also hope that the US Army Casualty Office is notified of Susie’s true status in relation to SSG Geist.   If there is indeed a Power of Attorney or a  Letter of Authorization (allowing her to represent SSG Geist’s family at meeting), we would hope that the Primary Next of Kin of SSG Geist be made aware of Susie’s charade and makes the necessary adjustments to any agreement that they may have with Susie.

We would also like to see the Board of the NLF give Ann Mills-Griffiths a stern caution with regard to her underhanded behavior keeping in mind that the organization’s reputation and public perception is paramount with regard to the NLF’s true mission. They also should remind her that the organization does not belong to her to use as her personal playground.  Instead, it belongs to the membership who has allowed her the privilege of serving them for over 30 years.  If the League were to lose their non-profit status over AMG’s refusal to address the Susie situation; the organization can be re-instated, yet without Ann having any role, either official or unofficial.

For now, we would like to put the Susie/Susan Lowenthal-Geist-Ragan-Stephens-Harvey story to rest.  We believe that we have shown her to be someone who has misused and abused the POW/MIA Issue for personal gratification and we sincerely hope that all of the NLF Board Members see fit to do the right thing.

****

Our next series of articles will appear in a few days.  In the meantime you can ask yourselves this question …

What do AMG, Richard Childress, Dr. Larry Ward, Bill Bell and Colin Powell have in common?  We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!

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