By Wayne Gates
Brown County Veterans Services Director Ralph Fox and his attorney met with the Brown County Veterans Service Board in executive session at a special meeting on July 23. The board is investigating allegations of misconduct by Fox and met to allow him to give his side of the story.
Fox was suspended with pay on July 2 after the commission was notified by Common Pleas Judge Scott Gusweiler that he had received a complaint by Veterans Services Officer Cheryl Childers that Fox had created a hostile work environment.
In a statement, Chiders wrote,“In the time I have worked here at Brown County Veteran Services, I have been repeatedly treated in a very hostile manner. I am subject to constant abuse and am now in fear of what may happen to me. I have been threatened numerous times, once while (Fox) was holding a gun, grabbed and screamed at, called names, ridiculed, and made to feel that I can do nothing right. I am alienated by my co-workers because they will not speak to me when Mr. Fox is present and are told to report ‘everything’ I do when he is not present.”
Gusweiler also received a letter from Rick Rhoades of VFW 9772 in Mt. Orab that was critical of the performance of Fox as director of the office.
Rhoades wrote in part, “The overriding question is: why does the Brown County Veterans Service office have such a poor performance record? The answer is: inadequate leadership at the top position in the office. As long as this person (Fox) remains in charge of the Brown County office a number of local veterans are going to receive less than adequate assistance they rightfully earned and deserve.”
The BCVS commission meeting on Monday began with Fox and his attorney John Woliver, along with about a dozen veterans in attendance. Some of the veterans had intended to speak to the board about their treatment by Fox when they requested services.
However, the board immediately voted to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters and those in attendance were asked to leave the room.
The veterans waited in the lobby for approximately an hour and a half, when it was announced that the meeting was over and no additional action was taken. Neither Fox nor Woliver, had any comment following the meeting.
The BCVSC met again the following day for its regularly scheduled meeting, with Brown County Prosecutor Zac Corbin in attendance as counsel for the board.
After beginning with routine business, the commission went into executive session once again. Following the executive session, Corbin said that the commission was concerned about hearing from the public about the operation of the office.
“Yesterday there were a lot of folks that wanted to address the board. They didn’t have that opportunity because the limited purpose of yesterday’s meeting was to discuss things with Ralph (Fox) and his attorney,” Corbin said. “I know that the board did feel bad for the folks that were present and did not have an opportunity to speak.”
Corbin said that the board set another meeting to address that concern.
“They are going to have a special meeting on Tuesday, July 31 at 9 a.m. where they will be inviting comment from veterans and family members of veterans to come in and express their experiences with the Brown County Veterans Service Commission,” said.
Corbin said that Fox’s status was also discussed in executive session, but no decision has yet been made. He remains suspended with pay.