Executive director quits, board member out at Home of the Brave

Board Chair Fuller at center of internal chaos
December 22, 2023

The executive director of Home of the Brave, a shelter for homeless veterans in Milford, resigned and a board member was removed just days before Christmas, following an independent investigation into the nonprofit. Their departures are the latest in a mass exodus of the organization’s leadership, and months of internal chaos.

Board Chair Greg Fuller said he cannot reveal the findings of the investigation, but there is still more to look into.

The investigation was launched after an employee accused now former Executive Director Heather Travitz of sexual harassment involving a shelter resident.

Former board member Tina Washington said the male resident never produced any evidence to support his claims.

In her resignation letter Dec. 18, Travitz cited a “prevailing hostile work environment” as a reason for her departure. She said Fuller is responsible for promoting that negative atmosphere.

“He’s a bully. He has to be stopped,” Travitz said.

She said she resigned on her own because she was sure the board was going to fire her.

Travitz was hired in May 2022. She claims Fuller did not want to hire her in the first place because she is not a veteran and is a woman. Fuller is a veteran and the elected Sussex County register of wills.

“There was no doubt Heather was the best candidate,” Washington said.

Before she quit, Travitz made accusations against Fuller that include harassment, inappropriate behavior and being dismissive of pornography on an office computer.

Travitz said Fuller also tried to hire his brother in direct disregard for Home of the Brave’s nepotism policy.

The accusations were included in a letter sent to more than two dozen people in November, including top officials at the Veterans Administration in Delaware and Washington, D.C., and local elected officials.

Washington and three other former board members signed the document in support of Travitz.

Travitz has filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She said she expects to have a hearing in January.

Fuller denies all of the allegations and said he is, in fact, cleaning up Home of the Brave, after a year-and-a-half of internal chaos.

“I’m not going to turn a blind eye to the crookedness,” Fuller said. “I’m not going to defend baseless accusations.”

Fuller is now serving as interim executive director as well as continuing as board chair.

According to Fuller, the independent investigation was launched after a meeting with the Veterans Administration in July. He said the VA blindsided the organization with a list of concerns it wanted to have resolved.

Fuller said the VA recommended, but did not order, the investigation. 

He said the Coastal Investigation Agency, run by former New York City police officer Frank Luizzi, was paid $3,000 to conduct the probe. Fuller said the money came from Home of the Brave’s general operating account and was not money used for veterans services.

Travitz’s allegations state that there was no signed contract, scope of work or any documentation of allegations given to the board.

Home of the Brave has a Grant Per Diem contract with the VA. That means the organization gets paid for each veteran who is living at the shelter.

Under terms of that contract, the organization is required to staff certain positions to manage and oversee the facility.

Washington said Home of the Brave is technically now not in compliance because some of those positions are unfilled.

The VA does not have any oversight of Home of the Brave employees.

A VA spokesperson confirmed they received the letter, but said, “We must refer you to Home of the Brave as we do not comment on activities within outside agencies”.

Fuller said he is working to fill five open positions, but hiring has been impacted by the independent investigation.

Travitz said there are currently 14 men, five women and two dependent children living at the shelter. She said there is a waiting list.

Home of the Brave just broke ground in September on a new community center that will have an office, multipurpose space and new facilities for veterans.

Travitz and Fuller say residents are still getting the care and services they need.

But Travitz said they have been impacted by the organization being short-staffed.

Travtiz said some residents have started a petition in an effort to have Fuller ousted.

But, Fuller said residents have thanked him for trying to straighten out the dysfunction within the organization.

Impact on board

The internal turmoil has had a major impact on the Home of the Brave board of directors.

The board voted to remove Washington at a meeting Dec. 14. She had been board chair before Fuller. She was not at the meeting, but the board sent her a letter Dec. 19 stating she had been removed “as the result of an independent official investigation.”

Washington said she has not been told what specific accusations were made against her.

She said she witnessed many of the allegations Travitz has made against Fuller.

“Mr. Fuller was elected [board chair] two months ago and life has been hell at Home of the Brave since then,” Washington said.

Washington is one of four board members to either be removed or resign on their own in the last few months.

Janet Sansone left in October, followed by Rene Flores.

Carl Phelps, who was board treasurer, was removed after a verbal altercation with Fuller during a meeting.

Sansone joined the board in July. She has a long background as a corporate vice president of human resources and has sat on company, university and nonprofit boards. 

She said she was shocked by the internal workings of Home of the Brave.

“[Fuller] was harassing employees and had a disregard for bylaws and policies,” Sansone said. “His actions were inappropriate for a board member, let alone a board chair.”

Fuller said he was supposed to leave the board at the end of the year, but has agreed to stay until June 2025, when Washington’s term would have ended.

“I can’t abandon the cause. I’ll be there every day for the veterans,” Fuller said.


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