This story contains the topic of suicide. If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the suicide prevention hotline at 800-273-8255.
On the morning of Monday, June 13th, local veteran Bill Whitman drove to the Reach Services building at 1400 Hulman Street, and took his own life in the parking lot. Multiple friends and family members shared that Bill’s experiences while working at Reach Services might have influenced his decision.
Bill had served as a case manager with Reach Veterans Services for eight years. Friends described him as kind, compassionate, thoughtful, and selfless. His wife of 36 years, Patty, said he was extraordinary and that he loved Tai Chi, taking care of their yard, and taking care of people.
According to their website “Reach Services saw the short comings of services offered to Veterans in the Wabash Valley,” and out of that lack of care started Reach Veteran Services in 2014. Through a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Supportive Services for Veteran’s Families, Reach has housed hundreds of veterans without permanent shelter.
Multiple veterans working for the organization, however, reported terrible working conditions influenced largely by Reach Services Executive Director Susie Thompson. One individual stating that he was, “financially and psychologically ruined by Reach Veterans Services.”
Bill worked primarily in the Bell Building, located at 621 Poplar Street. In a post shared May 23rd on the Reach Veterans Services Facebook page, the organization expressed that Bill had “retired” twice, but friends, family, and co-workers told a different story.
Bill’s direct supervisors called him a “perfect” employee, but also detailed a tumultuous relationship with director Susie Thompson. Multiple former staff members at Reach Veterans Services described a pattern of individuals being fired, then forced to sign resignation letters, and in Bill’s case, retirement announcements being made to the public.
Additional reports of corruption and unethical behavior by senior leadership at Reach Services and Reach Veterans Services have been received, and Susie Thompson has been contacted for comment. A follow up article will be posted with further details.
25 responses to “Questions raised about death of local veteran.”
We have considered using reach for speech therapy for our two year old. After reading this article we are second guessing that choice. If this is how they treat their own ppl we may have to seek a better option.
Bill – I think that REACH and this one are two entirely different associations. That REACH for young kids with delayed or other speech/hearing issues is a great asset from experience. This one is for homeless or other veterans.
Because of the actions of Leadership the clinic and clinic staff and the entire staff at 1400 Hulman were put in jeopardy…this could have been a lot worse…
They are the same organization.
Have you looked at Murphy, Urban, and Associates? I’d highly recommend them.
As far as Reach goes, well… Some people are bad because they are ignorant and don’t know better, while others are bad because they are malicious and enjoy the feeling of power they get from hurting others.
Susie Thompson manages both simultaneously.
This is not how we treat our people. I have been working for reach services since March. I absolutely love my job. Everyone I work with are absolutely amazing. We do amazing things and help as many people as we can as quickly and efficiently as possible. Thank you
I’m thankful that your time at Reach has been positive, however, at least three other former employees have reported contemplating suicide based on their experiences working for the company, and I think it’s important that their stories are told.
Maybe they should choose another profession. I’ve worked many places and I have personally seen the impact and care every employee gives for anyone and everyone. Hint: past employees not current.
Maybe @Lori should keep her two cents out of it ..she is clearly brainwashed and hasn’t a clue ..I feel sorry for her for jumping in a situation she know nothing about ..funny thing is she could be next
Wait till you are cussed at and called everything but your name
And treated like trash I wish you luck
Actually I’m far from brainwashed. However the fact that anyone is using bill’s death as an outlet is not only cruel but disgusting. You couldn’t get punches in at reach before so now everyone wants to make a circus out of this by using bill’s death. It’s all just wrong in so many ways. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Hi, Lori and Reach Services Crew! Just a few clarifications about your slovenly written post. Firstly, the absolute audacity to speak on an issue, having worked there for a meager three months, ought to tell anyone reading these comments enough about your level of education. I proceed, however. It’s quite clear, given your drought of knowledge concerning logic or rhetoric (not academically, even; just everyday logic). I don’t mean any offense, either. By your sentence structure and grammar, it looks as if you may have graduated from high school; so, I will try my best to break it down into a vernacular (I’ll give you time to look it up) you understand.
The “argument” you propose is that perhaps these employees should have chosen a different career path. Pay attention: this presupposes (assumes before) that said employee(s) has an a priori knowledge of the working conditions into which one is entering, which they do not until the job has started and the conditions have been foisted upon the employee, thus making your argument invalid. Additionally, and this may not be your fault alone (re: level of education) the comment—since it concerns Bill Whitman and his subsequent suicide—reads as if you believe, “maybe they should choose a new job” (sic: indicates the exact replication of the quoted text. It’s used to indicate that the writer of said sentence has made one or more errors within the quoted text). This, according to elementary principles of least includes Bill Whitman.
You have affectively said that Bill Whitman, a man to whom you could hold no candle, one who worked tirelessly to promote the safety and well-being for veterans for virtually a decade, SHOULD HAVE CHOSEN A DIFFERENT CAREER.
There is a critical mistake you and the rest of Reach Veteran Services ought to head: Troy is always burning, meaning that long after the warrior has left the battle field, the conflagration of Troy rages within as an unquenchable flame of justice. If you hurt one, you hurt all. It was, after all, Odysseus and not Ajax who won Achille’s armor. Ajax who committed suicide because Achille’s shield and armaments were won through deception and Sophistry instead to the rightful owner. Let you your tongue pour its honey. We are steadfast in our lone mission of cutting the worms from the core of Reach Veterans Services, for us, for Bill.
If you, or anyone else would like to contact me directly, I would be more than happy to organize a meeting that is recorded or monitored by a third-party. I can bring any evidential material I have, and you can bring yours. You, or Reach Veteran Services, can provide an explanation for the event which they are being accused.
Well people won’t understand the leadership at Reach until they are beat down and kicked and your mental Heath issues are over looked for the service to your Country I had to get back into therapy just to be able to get back in the work force it took 3 months after the abuse I had to endure especially during the the beginning of CV – 19
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I am a Veteran I worked at Reach Veterans Services I was treated like trash by upper management They tried to make me resign I told them that would have to fire me upper management called me every thing but my name. I had to go seek treatment from mental health from the garbage that I had to deal with. I worked during The CV 19 outbreak with no support from case management or upper management.
@walter … I have a letter that Susie wrote to you …inbox me your email and I will send it to you
I really don’t care what she has to say!!!
I personally worked with Bill he is a Great Man who loved the work he did Bill did everything thing he could to help Veterans
He will be missed Rest In Peace Brother
@Lori I stand on every word I said and every word I’m going to say …just the day before Susie came in my office I myself attempted suicide …you haven’t a clue the racism, threats and hate I had to endure while I was the program manager, I stayed up for days and nights and I was nothing less than a model employee despite the lies Sarah and Susie have told you about me..please don’t get it twisted this ain’t about me …it’s about bill …while y’all moving around business as usual …his wife is worried about losing her house …I am my brothers keeper a true veteran and I worked side by side with him …you don’t know what I know and that’s a fact …just because I’m vocal doesn’t mean others don’t feel away …I just have the balls to speak up because I’m far enough from Reach they can’t touch me …I no longer fear reprisals
@Lori answer me this one question …not sure what your role is there…but to my knowledge you are not leadership…why haven’t they said a word…that’s the part that make Reach look guilty ..they know we got receipts for days …I know I do …
I feel how I feel and my experiences with Reach Veterans Services are mine …Reach again has violated policy as there is no current Release of Information and John Burk has contacted my employer as the Program Manager of Veteran services …I’m am no longer a client of Reach or SSVF ..so explain why he contacted my job …they want to break and silence me because they are 200 percent responsible for bills suicide ..and again this is a blatant attack on me for speaking my truth …reprisals and retaliation…they want me homeless
I had to copy this comment and post it here:
@Mz Carolyn stated:
Over the years I’ve been asked why I no longer support this organization. Here is a snippet to offer a bit of understanding.
Demands of falsifying documentation, endless lies to/about employees, lack of training for required responsibility of duties and/or tasks, poor treatment of individuals in need, preferential treatment for a “more desirable” individual in need over another in a deeper need, lack of concern for emergency situations, poor management (which is a massive understatement), horrendous working environment do to poor attitude and demeanor of management, abusive behavior and words from the visual head of the organization, an entire board of individuals who either lack the knowledge or lack concern for what goes on, hiring uneducated and inexperienced staff to complete jobs of a highly sensitive nature. Just to name a few.
There is no question in my mind that Bill was pushed to this by Susie and her actions. She used him up in the worst way and then shoved him aside as if he were trash. Him taking the actions he did speaks volumes… Him taking those actions at Reach Services SCREAMS for justice. Bill worked at the Bell building not the main office, he acted in the parking lot of the main office. JUST OUTSIDE OF Susie’s DOOR. I could not begin to express the man that Bill was. Pure, loving, ironically funny and extremely kind. He was driven to help those in need and aid in all he could through an organization that he originally believed in.
When I took the job working for Reach I was excited to be doing something to try and make a change. I was humbled by the number of people we saw and spoke to on a daily basis. And it WAS a daily basis that individuals needed help. Be it housing, food, resources, showers or assistance in getting jobs, etc. No organization can help them all, to be fair, but I think they could have helped more.
I won’t state all the illegal things that go on there, as that could/would implicate myself and others. Just know that Bill was NOT the exception to a bad situation… He was just the one to successfully follow through. 😞 He wasn’t alone in being pushed to far and to hard. The way employees are treated, the environment and the stress is why they are constantly in need of staff. Lots of people stayed and still stay because of a belief in the knowledge that “we can help some” and “we can make a change”. It’s core individual human value that allows them to stay the course. I was unable to stay the course and left.
I hope this email finds you well. I am writing this email as well as sending a certified letter to IDVA, InteCare, and Reach Services as my Confidential information was disclosed to my new employer directly on 6/23/2022 when he called the hospital administrator, George Zhang. George’s direct phone number is John Burk identified himself as the current Program Director of Reach Veteran Services, and disclosed to him that I was a former employee, also a grant recipient, a thief, a drug abuser, as well as disclosing that I had been threatening him personally and he no longer feels safe coming to Clay County Hospital to receive medical care, which is far from the truth. I, up until Thursday, had no clue that there was even a problem between John and I.
I, like, everyone that has worked with Bill, am outraged that he committed suicide. I myself also attempted to commit suicide as i was under intense scrutiny and pressure driven and caused DIRECTLY by Susie Thompson.
When I take a look back and reflect on my tenure at Reach, I 100% can say that I was honest, hardworking, and the best at the paperwork, and I completed my job without arguement or passing off the buck. While staff was turning over and over and over I carried the entire SSVF program on my shoulders by completing all outstanding paperwork, gathering supporting documentation and attempting to be a case manager in which I had no training to do. I received no formal training from SSVF or Susie and I had to learn and memorize the SSVF and IDVA manual verbatim and trying to teach incoming staff as well as keep up with my job duties, only be be cussed, berated, and denied overtime for doing the work that was not being done. Out of all of the SSVF sub-contractors, I was the only Program Manager involved at the case manager level, in the completion of the paperwork. I have experienced first hand and saw the hostility, manipulation, racism, favoritism, and toxicity that working at reach came with, but I still gave it all I could until I mentally couldn’t. Most board members know my name and of me, but none took the time to get to know me professionally and they heavily rely on what Susie tells them and take it all for face value, with no way for me to defend my good name.
Per Reach’s Employment Handbook that I signed as well as I ensured the entire Vet Services Staff, including John Burk:
This policy applies to all confidential information regarding staff members, consumers, and the business affairs of the agency. By agreeing to this policy, you are agreeing that you shall not use for yourself, nor disclose to others, during the term of your employment or any time thereafter, any confidential information belonging to the agency or relating to its consumers, staff, and volunteers. You further agree that all case records, case histories, or other files and materials concerning the agency, its employees, and its consumers shall belong to and remain the exclusive property of the agency.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act of 1996 requires agencies to protect the privacy and security of certain health information. Reach Services meets the established national standard for the protection of electronic Protected Health Information (PHI) and has established security standards for the transmission of Electronic Health Information (EHI). Reach Services has a HIPAA Compliance Officer. Incidents are reviewed monthly for possible breech of information. Employees are required to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all health information. Any employee found to violate the policies as outlined can and will face disciplinary action, potentially including dismissal.
The relationship between Reach Services Inc. and its consumers is one of the utmost confidences. Confidentiality is a rule we must observe rigidly. It means that we should never discuss with any acquaintance, friend, or relative the business affairs of Reach Services consumers or volunteers, whether the information seems important to us or not. Our consumers trust us not to reveal any of their business affairs to anyone. A violation of this policy could result in termination.
I am no longer under services, nor is there a current ROI in place for John Burk, the Program Director of Veteran Services to contact my current place of employment, there was no reason for him to call at all period, and disclose anything about me , however John Burk did, and that is a direct violation of my privacy and HIPPA law as being a recipient of Services, and a former employee of Reach Services.
I am formally asking that John Burk be terminated for the actions of violating my personal and professional privacy by calling my current employer in the capacity of Program Director. John Burk has written an absolutely false statement on me , sending it to Susie and the board of directors, on 10/6/2021, which is 6-7 weeks after I was forced out of the building and totally embarrassed by Susie in front of Bill Whitman, and Thomas Kirby as veteran we were serving on August 17, 2021. I have attached the letter that was given to a staff member here at the hospital, written by John as I called bullshit on the story that Bill resigned.
It’s so disheartening, disrespectful, and damaging to a person when you tarnish and defame their name without evidence and just cause. The very agency that helped me overcome homelessness is the very agency trying to send me back into homelessness, which is not conducive to the mission that you as an agency has made thousands of dollars on. Despite the defaming and destructive behavior that Executive Leadership has displayed, I am a Reach Survivor, and a true success story and I will continue to live my life on the side of right and continue to excel at everything I do, it truly sad and unfortunate I could not grow better with Reach.
If anyone has any questions or concerns, in regards to my allegations. I can be Reached directly @ (812) 391-5617. George Zhang, Ascension St,. Vincent Clay Hospital Administrator, can be reached a
I am calling for immediate action.
Melissa J. Gray
@Lori I reported them to the EEOC for their discrimination and abuse; Im absolutely disgusted that upper management at Reach did this to Bill. It was only a matter od time that something like this happened. They absolutely abuse, dedicated, hard working, caring people. We are all coming together now bc we cant allow it to happen again-we each have a story and we’re not going to stop. I know for a fact that Reach deliberately with holds services and resources from Veterans in need. You dont know anything yet, but they’ll be coming for you soon! Funny thing abt that-my 75 yr old mother told me NOT to take a job at Reach bc they have a reputation for maltreatment of employees; of course I didnt listen bc as a 20 yr Veteran of the US Army, I wanted to help my people.
I worked there for a little while. While it was a bit hostile it didn’t come from Susie. I didn’t let it get to me. I was given tasks I was woefully unprepared for, but I appreciated the challenge and experience I gained from it. I enjoyed the time I was there and although I made only minimum wage I felt good about what I was doing.
I felt like I was let go for some pretty fishy reasons, but it is what it is and I just kept it moving.
The staff was pretty catty overall but Susie never crossed any lines that I noticed.
To be clear I’m not refuting anyone else’s experience, just relaying my own.