Accusations and drama have surrounded the departure of long time Green Beret Foundation executive director Jennifer Paquette back in September — and since that time, the Foundation has filed a temporary restraining order (later withdrawn) and a lawsuit against her, along with their former finance officer, Melissa Pucino. The accusations include claims that Paquette locked the Green Beret Foundation out of several dozen of their computer systems and databases after she submitted a letter of resignation, which was soon accepted. The Foundation claims that these databases contained sensitive information about donors as well as Green Berets being supported by the Foundation’s endeavors. Mrs. Paquette denied all of these accusation in a response to the original temporary restraining order.
When asked about the Foundation being locked our of their computer systems, Mrs. Paquette told NEWSREP, “Ninety percent of the staff are admins on all of the systems and I require the staff to document their functional areas for business continuity. Melissa Pucino was COO/CFO and she had several three-inch binders with screenshots and detailed directions for all of Ops. It is in hard copy and soft copy formats. The entire staff knows where this is.” The Green Beret Foundation declined to comment further on the matter, citing legal concerns and that there is a lawsuit pending.
The request for a temporary restraining order also claims that Paquette broke into the Green Beret Foundation’s building after she had resigned and removed paperwork containing proprietary information. Paquette asserts that she never entered the premises and that her husband Roland (himself a disabled Special Forces veteran) went to the office to help Mrs. Pucino collect her things and leave as she felt intimidated by an employee of the Foundation.
In a letter written by Mrs. Pucino’s lawyer, her side of the story is explained. According to her, she showed up on Saturday, September 22nd, to do her job. While at the GBF building, another employee came into the office to fire Pucino. Soon, several former employees who had been previously fired showed up at the office. Mrs. Pucino was aware of an incident in 2015 when a disgruntled former employee stole a laptop computer and sensitive information from the Foundation.
According to Paquette, that former employee actually came back to the Foundation the next day and literally threw the laptop computer at her before running out the back door. Aware of this, and fearing the worst, Pucino took steps to secure the information she had access to and lock down her accounts. Later, she was informed that she had actually been fired and with this confirmed she began transitioning control of those accounts back to the Foundation.
The Green Beret Foundation, again, declined to comment on the specifics of the incident due to the pending lawsuit. Melissa Pucino also denies the charges the Green Beret Foundation has made against her in a declaration to the court writing, “I specifically and categorically deny the allegations made by the GBF in its baseless suit against me.”
In the aftermath of these events, while Pucino and Paquette fought back against the filed Temporary Restraining Order, a social media war began between Paquette and some members of the Special Forces community. Paquette’s husband was essentially deemed persona non grata by the Special Forces community, and at least one anonymous individual has sent letters to the hospital where Roland works in an attempt to smear his character and have his employer fire him.
Jason McCarthy, a 10th Special Forces Group veteran and board member at the Green Beret Foundation agreed that such underhanded tactics were inappropriate and wrong. “The things that are being done personally are deplorable. If everyone just stayed away and let this run its course this would be much more professional,” he told NEWSREP. “I have heard accusations of burner social media accounts fanning the fires and it is not okay,” he continued.
“I wish Jenn and Roland and Melissa all the very best, they’ve sacrificed a lot for the Special Forces community,” McCarthy said, acknowledging their hard work, despite the recent falling out.
Regarding the current status of the Green Beret Foundation, McCarthy said that they are back to work as usual and are trying to put this incident behind them, adding, “We have to get back to why the Green Beret Foundation exists and get out of the weeds of whatever this situation might be.” As a board member and Special Forces veteran, McCarthy believes in the Foundation’s mission, saying, “Just because the wars are out of our consciousnesses doesn’t mean the need has gone down, actually it has gone up. Guys get off their team, retire, and that is when the problems start to show up. They are always hard but they are also manageable with support. We are always committed to that.”
Lead image courtesy of DVIDS.