Former Tucson lawmaker Terri Proud, who was just hired by the state Veterans' Services Department, was fired Wednesday in the wake of her statement in a news story that menstrual cycles might be too problematic for women to be in combat. The department director who hired her has resigned.
Joey Strickland submitted his resignation letter on Tuesday, shortly after the Arizona Sonora News Service story on Proud appeared in the Star.
Proud was a personal appointee of Strickland's to the $40,000 administrative assistant position and didn't go through a formal hiring process. She was terminated Wednesday, before she even officially started her new job. She was supposed to start in May.
Proud was given the job despite Gov. Jan Brewer having told Strickland a year ago not to hire her, said gubernatorial spokesman Matt Benson, adding Brewer only just learned about the appointment from the newspaper.
"It's fair to say that we voiced concerns regarding our learning of a recent hire of his via the news media," Benson said of Strickland's resignation.
"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," he said.
Benson wouldn't say why the Governor's Office didn't want Proud hired.
Proud said she didn't know that the governor didn't want her, and doesn't know why.
"I have no idea. I have no idea why they didn't want to hire me," Proud said. Although she would like to know, she has no plans to ask Brewer.
Proud has a reputation for being controversial. She gained national attention during her time in the Legislature for a viral email exchange in which she said women who want abortions should have to watch one first.
In the Tuesday story, Proud said, "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 Wednesday.
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 he didn't know if 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 from 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 Brewer is grateful for Strickland's service, and that the department will now be going in a different direction.
Deputy Director Robert Barnes takes over as interim director.
Strickland took over the Arizona Department of Veterans' Services in 2008. Before that, his department biography says he served in the Army from 1966 until he retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1994, followed by 14 years in different government positions in Louisiana.
Proud said she is "absolutely devastated," about losing the job, especially since she fought for female 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. The plates cost $25, and $17 of that goes toward a special fund to help homeless female veterans.