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.