Scocos removed as Veterans Affairs Secretary - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Scocos removed as Veterans Affairs Secretary


MADISON (WKOW) -- Members of the state's Veterans Affairs Board voted to remove Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos, two months after his return from military deployment in Iraq.

The board fired Scocos during a special meeting in Madison after spending 90 minutes berating him for a series of missteps and miscommunications. They complained Scocos had kept them in the dark about key decisions.

Scocos told the Associated Press he was given the option of resigning but declined. He said his firing was unfair and he planned to take legal action against the board and its members, alleging they violated a federal law that protects returning military members.

Scocos held the job since 2003.

The board named department administrator Ken Black the next secretary.

During the meeting, board members cited a state justice department report critical of the management of the department's veterans nursing home in Waupaca County.

They also questioned Scocos' management of a fee increase for residents of another department nursing home in Union Grove.

Shari Gonzalez of Beloit, whose 83 year old father Robert Silbaugh is a resident of the assisted living portion of Union Grove, testified before the board the fee increase was steep and sprung on residents without giving them a chance to figure out how to absorb it.

"My dad is not a number,"  Gonzalez told the board.   "Something's wrong with this picture."

A Veterans Affairs commandant said the fee increase was required by state statute, and that comparable private pay homes in the area charged the same or more for their residents.

Scocos repeatedly said he was investigating problems with communication and at King. 

Scocos was appointed secretary when the board was controlled by Republican appointees.   Democratic governor Doyle has appointed all of the current members.

"They are an independent board that does this,"   Doyle told 27 News reporter Brian Rodriguez during a Madison appearance.   "They had their reasons."

Scocos is a lieutenant colonel with the Army Reserve and has served two tours of duty in Iraq, returning most recently in September.    

Board members acknowledged Scocos' service, but said his department management was lacking and problems long-standing.

"This was not just when you were deployed,"   said board member Dan Naylor.

Online reporting by Tony Galli

(The Associated Press contributed to this coverage)


MADISON (WKOW) -- Members of the state's Veteran's Affairs Board grilled Veteran's Secretary John Scocos on the management of the Veteran's department before going into closed session to consider Scocos' future.

When confronted by one board member about management problems at a Veteran's Nursing Home in King, Scocos said, "I take responsibility for this department if that's what you want to hear." Scocos pledged to correct any department management problems. Scocos recently returned from a deployment in Iraq with the Army Reserve.

Stay tuned to WKOWTV.COM as well as 27 News at 6 and 6:30 for more details about the meeting's conclusion.


MADISON (WKOW) -- The Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Board will consider the future of Veterans Secretary John Scocos during its board meeting Tuesday.

E-mails obtained by the Associated Press reflect tension between board members and Scocos over decision-making.   The e-mails reference the handling of information on questionable spending at the veterans nursing home in King, and changes at the veterans nursing home at Union Grove.

Scocos has been veterans affairs secretary since 2003 and has served two tours of duty in Iraq as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.   Scocos returned from deployment most recently in September and made personnel changes in top agency management.

Scocos was appointed secretary when the veterans affairs board was controlled by Republican appointees. Democratic Governor Doyle has appointed all of the current board members.

27 News reporter Tony Galli is staffing the veterans affairs board meeting and will have new information on and in 27 News at  6 and 6:30 p.m.

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