Letter to the Editor: Local veterans upset about Vets Home administrator’s removal

Veterans Home painted sign

On Sept. 1 of this year, Illinois Veterans Home Quincy Administrator Troy Culbertson as asked by Veterans Affairs Director Terry Prince to sign a letter of resignation or he would be terminated.

After gathering facts about this situation, it was caused by a minor racial incident between an employee and a resident of the home. Culbertson had called for the meeting with Director Prince to discuss and resolve this situation. Culbertson expected that to be the purpose of the meeting on Sept. 1.

Within a couple of hours of hearing the bad news, retired IVHQ Adjutant Dawn Whitcomb, American Legion Honor Guard Commander Darrell Schrage and I met with Director Prince to convince him this was a serious mistake and would have an adverse effect on IVHQ. He stonewalled us as to the reason for this dismissal, as it involved personnel, but assured us that this was not a political decision.

He kept insisting that Culbertson resigned — which is a lie. I reminded Prince of the conversation we had at the IVHQ Memorial Day program on May 26 of this year, when he couldn’t say enough good things about the job Culbertson was doing as Administrator.

The same American Legion members met at Rep. Randy Frese’s office with Sen. Jil Tracy attending by phone. After we explained what went on, Randy was going to try to get a House hearing scheduled to get to the bottom of this problem. We have not heard if this hearing has been scheduled.

On Sept. 16, 2023, the IVHQ Advisory Council called an emergency meeting to try to stop this terrible situation. A letter was written to Gov. Pritzker by one of the members of the Council and signed by all 17 members present at the meeting. The letter was sent by registered mail to both offices of the governor. As of today, no response was received from the governor.

I emailed Prince on Sept. 25, 2023, stating how disappointed I was in him, that he should reinstate Culbertson and that he himself should resign as VA Director. Of course, I never received a reply from Prince, either.

As most of you know, the administrator is appointed by the governor, and Culbertson was appointed by the former governor seven years ago. Culbertson was not replaced when Gov. Pritzker took office his first term, as Culbertson’s job performance was excellent. He had managed many civilian nursing homes for years before being hired at IVHQ. I truly believe our present governor wants the administrator’s job to be his own appointment for no reason but political gain.

With many wonderful things happening on IVHQ grounds, we need Culbertson back, who has skillfully led us through the Legionnaires and COVID outbreaks, and has shown great leadership through the completed improvements at Sunset Cemetery, as well as the progress on the new buildings on the IVHQ campus.

To force the resignation of Culbertson now is just another example of the stupid blunders that Illinois government makes all too often. We must have him back!

Thank you.

Roger Schwengel
IVHQ Advisory Council Member

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