The director of The Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services resigned and an assistant he hired was fired Wednesday after Arizona-Sonora News Service published an article where the new hire said menstrual cycles might be too problematic for women to be in combat.
While Joey Strickland resigned after the article on the new hire, former Tucson lawmaker Terri Proud, a spokesman for the governor’s office said it’s fair to say the Governor’s Office was concerned about her remarks.
"It's fair to say that we voiced concerns regarding our learning of a recent hire of his via the news media,” said Matt Benson, spokesman for the Governor’s Office.
Hiring Proud in the first place went against specific instructions from the Governor’s Office. Benson said the governor had warned Strickland not to hire Proud.
“Col. Strickland was given very specific instructions about a year ago to avoid hiring this individual. He chose to do so anyway and unfortunately that individual’s questionable judgment was on display this week with some ill chosen public remarks regarding women in the military," Benson said.
Benson didn’t say why the Governor’s Office didn’t want Proud hired.
Proud has a reputation for being controversial. She gained national attention during her time in the Legislature for a viral email exchange where she said women who want abortions should have to watch one first.
Proud, whom Strickland hired to start in May as an administrative assistant, told Arizona-Sonora News Service, “Women have certain things during the month I’m not sure they should be out there dealing with. I don’t know how to address that topic in a very diplomatic manner.”
The comment was taken “way out of context,” Proud said.
Proud said the comment wasn’t intended to bash anyone, though that appears to be how the comment was taken. She posted on Facebook that the firing apparently came after activists called the Governor’s Office.
Benson said he didn’t have a feel for whether or not the governor was getting many calls about the issue.
"I don't have a problem with women being on the front line if that's their choice," Proud said. "I'm not going to sit there and say no you don't have that right. I was making a funny comment, ‘What are they going to do?"
How menstrual cycles are handled is a curiosity she has, Proud said, noting that whether or not that hurdle is being addressed is a real issue even if it isn’t talked about. Women are designed differently than men and need to have their needs met on the front lines, she said.
Proud said no one had called her to ask her about the comment, she was just fired.
"For the Governor's Office to do this because of an article that was written is asinine. It's wrong," Proud said.
Strickland said he wasn’t emotionally ready to talk about the job loss yet.
Benson said Gov. Brewer is grateful for Strickland’s service and that the department will now be going in a different direction.
Deputy Director Robert Barnes will be stepping in for Strickland in the interim.
Strickland had been with the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services since 2008, according to his LinkedIn account.
Proud said she is “absolutely devastated,” about losing the job, especially since she fought for women veterans during her time at the Legislature with her bill that created a specialty license plate for female veterans. The license plate doesn’t just raise awareness, she said, but gives money to help homeless female veterans.
—Bethany Barnes is the Don Bolles Fellow for Arizona-Sonora News Service