State VFW commander apologizes to Fayette director
The state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars has issued an apology to Fayette County Veterans Affairs Director Tod Conner, saying he was "appalled and disappointed" about critical comments an officer for the VFW's Pittsburgh regional office made about Conner last month.
In a letter addressed to Fayette County veterans, state Cmdr. Larry Reece said he was apologizing on behalf of his organization for the comments of Michael Schomer, the department service officer for the Pittsburgh regional office.
During an interview for a Tribune-Review story published last month, Schomer said Conner paid "lip service" to the county's 13,200 veterans, asserting that Conner frequently filed error-riddled benefit claim applications. Schomer criticized Conner for choosing not to operate an outreach booth at the Fayette County Fair.
The letter, dated Saturday, was sent to Allen Jones, a Dunbar Township resident who is a past state commander of the VFW. County veterans organized an open forum over the weekend to discuss the complaints and show support for Conner.
"Please be assured that as commander of the Department of Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars, I am appalled and disappointed that the VFW Pittsburgh service officer would publicly criticize the Fayette County director of Veterans Affairs for whatever reason," Reece said in the letter, which named Schomer. "I personally would like to apologize to the Fayette County director of Veterans Affairs for the remarks made by the VFW Pittsburgh service officer. In my opinion, he was totally out of line, and he should never have used the name of the VFW when making remarks that were his and only his."
In a brief interview on Tuesday, Reece said the department will take disciplinary action, which he did not specify.
"We are definitely taking action, so hopefully, it never happens again," he said.
Schomer did not return messages yesterday requesting comment.
Conner had been taken aback by the criticism because he'd never met Schomer. Yet, he said he wants to have the opportunity to speak with VFW officials to resolve any outstanding issues "because I certainly have none with them."
"I feel a little vindicated," Conner said yesterday. "I think it speaks volumes. I had nothing to do with the support rallied by the community."
He added that the criticism wouldn't discourage him from continuing to serve as VA director. At roughly 15 months, he's been in the post longer than any other VA director since March 2005, when a predecessor resigned after three years on the job.
"I stand firm," Conner said. "I will continue to march forward and help every veteran -- or non-veteran -- in this county that I can."
Fayette County Commissioner Vincent Zapotosky said Reece's letter was important because Conner and his two employees are "competent and compassionate" people who perform a "quality service" for veterans.
"Tod did not deserve this," he said. "The work he does for the veterans, as well as the staff's, is the best that it's been in decades."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Uniontown natives’ charity honors friend wounded in Afghanistan
- Henry: Family fun, fireworks this weekend in Connellsville
- Masontown woman charged with leaving infant in hot vehicle
- Brooklyn man’s cross-state taxi ride leads straight to jail in Uniontown
- Masontown woman seeks probationary program in theft case
- Librarian chronicles history of Fayette County executions
- Weather batters Connellsville-area bike trail
- Scott C’s July 4 Car Show planned in Connellsville
- Author, novel showcased at Connellsville event
- Injuries show Uniontown’s Forsythe her career path
- Art on the Yough in Connellsville to feature works of Shakespeare