COLONEL ROBERT A. (BOB) GOODMAN
Colonel Goodman has been an Alaska resident for over 50 years. He retired from the military after 30 years of service which included time in the US Army, the Alaska Army National Guard, and the Alaska Air National Guard. He has extensive experience in Military Personnel and Administration.
He was hired temporarily by the State of Alaska to research and develop a program to obtain Discharge Certificates for Alaska Territorial Guard members who served to protect Alaska from invasion during WW II. The ATG numbered approximately 6,600 members along the entire Alaska coastline. Many of them served for 5 years without any pay or benefits. When the war ended, the ATG units were disbanded by the US Army. When the Alaska National Guard was formed, many of the former ATG members filled the positions needed and some served another 20 years. Army Major Marvin “Muktuk” Marston, who enlisted and trained the ATG members, published a book titled “Men of the Tundra” which details the voluntary enlistment of every male from 12 years of age in the villages he visited, the protection of a platinum mine in Alaska that provided minerals needed to make aircraft spark plugs to the bases in Alaska that was needed to ferry new aircraft from the US to Russia for use in the war.
It was a passionate effort by Col. Goodman to identify, locate, and complete application forms and documents for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to verify their service and forward the package to the Department of the Army for processing. His vast experience made him the most qualified person to attempt this endeavor. Work on the project was started in July 2003 and the Department of the Army was ready to process applications by October 2004. Within 4 months, Bob Goodman had obtained 150 applications with which he could begin the process of obtaining supporting documents to present to DMVA for certification.
Time was critical since these members had been granted Veteran Status in August 2000, by federal law, and were dying at a rapid pace. When the first 23 discharge certificates were received from the Department of the Army for presentation to the individuals, the program was viable. Sadly, two of those applicants died during the process.
Sam Herman was the first ATG member who was presented his discharge on 18 October 2004 by Sen. Lisa Murkowski with his family, Bob Goodman, and Gen. Campbell in attendance. This event had full TV and newspaper coverage.
The Alaska DMVA was staffed primarily by 1 individual to handle the needs of all veterans in Alaska, therefore did not have the time required to devote to the ATG program. Col. Goodman was asked to contract with the State to be paid for the number of discharge packages prepared and submitted to the office of the Alaska Adjutant General, Craig Campbell.
While the State stretched out the negotiating process, Col. Goodman continued his efforts on behalf of the surviving veterans and spouses at his own expense.
Col. Goodman contacted retired Major James O’Rear, with whom he had worked previously, to assist him. Major O’Rear retired with 22 years military experience in Office Administration and had lived in Alaska for 17 years. Col. Goodman provided the office space, computers, supplies, and used his personal vehicle for this work. The workload now expanded to 12 hour days and 7 days a week. The number of packages submitted and discharges received began to increase rapidly. Col. Goodman’s personal attention to the individuals contacted earned him the label of “ATG Representative” among many Alaskans.
The Adjutant General indicated that his staff would apply to the State Legislature for funding the estimated cost of completing this project in the time promised to the Department of the Army. The Alaska National Guard’s goal for completing the verification process for surviving ATG members was January 1, 2005. This is stated in a letter from R.L. Brownlee, Acting Secretary of the Army to Alaska Senator Ted Stevens dated 7 Oct. 2004. He also indicated that the State could more easily pay for the applications if he would establish a Non-Profit organization. Col. Goodman received his IRS designation of Alaska Territorial Guard Organization Inc. (ATGO Inc.) within 9 months and at his own expense.
Bob Goodman had won the trust and confidence of Native Alaskans who had been neglected and mistreated by Oil Companies drilling on their hunting grounds, the Alaska State Government, and the Federal Government since 1942. Word quickly spread throughout the villages that Bob Goodman could be trusted.
Bob provided assistance to many applicants from fellowship and meals to paying for a member’s birth certificate when they couldn’t, to getting a lawn mower repaired when the applicant did not have the funds to do so. Since 1954, Governors and Adjutant Generals had tried to get these ATG members recognized as veterans but to no avail.
Once the program showed success, it was inhumane to not obtain Discharge Certificates for the rest of the members. Bob Goodman continued to hear from and meet with those interested in being recognized. He also was not being paid for his work because the State couldn’t settle on a payment method nor did Gen. Campbell allocate funds nor apply for legislative funding as he had promised. At the direction of Governor Murkowski to make the program a priority, Gen. Campbell contracted with ATGO, Inc. on 14 July 2006 to provide a specified number of applications for a specified amount of money. At that time when Mr. Goodman asked if Gen. Campbell was going to pay him for the approximately 100 applications previously submitted, the General’s reply was to the effect “the State of Alaska thanks you”. Now politics and the “I don’t care” attitude kicks in at the expense of the veterans and Col. Goodman. Also, the Governor, the Adjutant General, and State Legislators are ignoring Federal Law and the agreement with the Dept. of the Army.
By now, the gentleness and sharing attitude of Native Alaskans has made Col. Goodman’s work personal. He not only has to devote time to searching for ATG members before they die, but he has to fight for funding constantly from the State, Oil Companies, Native Corporations who should be whole heated supporters of his work. Gen. Campbell not only didn’t want to continue the ATG program but created obstacles to slow it up. He also wanted to take control of the physical operation and get political credit for this accomplishment. However, he didn’t have sufficient staff with the experience and time needed. For example, from 2003 to Oct 2006 ATGO, Inc. had provided approximately 120 applications and the Alaska DMVA had provided only 27. That should demonstrate which agency was the most efficient. And still, it was 25 June 2007 before another contract was issued to ATGO, Inc. for only $15,000. This was only after Bob Goodman personally went to Juneau and lobbied Legislators for $50,000. for work on the ATG program. Gen. Campbell found out that Col. Goodman was in Juneau so he went down also. The Legislature approved the amount but Gen. Campbell had them to allow him to administer the funds. The Legislature also instructed him to provide any other services he could to ATGO, Inc. He issued the one contract for $15,000. and it was quickly filled. When Col. Goodman asked for the renewal of the contract, DMVA would not renew it but put the other $35,000. into their own operating budget. Nor did he provide any office supplies, that he acknowledged in an email was instructed by the Legislature.
It was Governor Murkowski’s last year in office. Sarah Palin was running for Governor and Bob Goodman and Jim O’Rear discussed the ATG program with her prior to election. She promised to make the program a top priority if elected. Therefore, both Bob and Jim worked on her campaign. Bob Goodman was committed to completing the ATG program any way he could. After she was elected, they asked Gov. Palin for an appointment to discuss requiring Gen. Campbell to expedite completion of the program. She said to call the office for an appointment. After several attempts to get an appointment, Mr. Goodman and Mr. O’Rear went to the Governor’s office and sat in the lobby outside her office for 4 hours each of 4 days and still couldn’t get an appointment. In desperation, they took information about the ATG program to Gov. Palin’s parent’s house in Wasilla and discussed it with them. They couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t see them. They agreed to talk to her about seeing them. They also approached the Governor’s husband downtown and asked him to tell her that they needed to see her. Her staff member, Frank Bailey was assigned as mediator to resolve the problem but he had no success with Gen. Campbell. During the process, Col. Goodman gave Mr. Bailey 14 questions in writing to ask Gen. Campbell. Upon receipt of a written reply, Col. Goodman pointed out several lies by Gen. Campbell, to the Governor’s office.
It was discovered that DMVA had hired additional employees and assigned employees from other jobs to work on the ATG recognition. This was a tremendous cost to the State of Alaska. Col. Goodman turned in approximately 100 additional applications to DMVA and closed out his work. Afterwards, Col. Goodman kept getting letters and calls from ATG applicants saying it was taking over a year to get their Discharge Certificate .
The State of Alaska cheated Col. Goodman out of payment for work on the approximately 200 ATG applications he was forced to provide DMVA in order to keep his promise to the applicants. The State also cheated veterans and surviving spouses out of thousands of dollars.