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Status quo ‘not an option’ at Armed Forces Retirement Homes. Pentagon wants new leader.

The Armed Forces Retirement Home opened its new facility in Gulfport in October 2010, after devastation in Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The Armed Forces Retirement Home opened its new facility in Gulfport in October 2010, after devastation in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. amccoy@sunherald.com File

The chief operating officer of the Armed Forces Retirement Home on U.S. 90 in Gulfport and in Washington, D.C., was fired and the Defense Department says the change is necessary for the facilities to continue operating.

A meeting with the Gulfport residents and staff has been called for 11 a.m. Friday.

The Washington Post reports that Timothy Kangas, COO since April 2016, was let go because he failed to aggressively pursue revenue-generating proposals that might free the campuses from chronic insolvency, according David Tillotson III, a senior Pentagon official who oversees the agency.

The Washington Post article said Tillotson told reporters that Kangas was especially reluctant to implement changes to capitalize on the aging golf course at the Washington campus, known as the Old Soldiers’ Home.

“Status quo for AFRH is not an option,” said Christopher Sherwood, Defense Department spokesman. “The combination of leadership, revenues, expenses, locations, legislation, and number of residents served/subsidized must change for the Home to endure.”

The Washington Post reported in July that a Defense Department document showed the retirement home agency faced a projected loss of $247 million for fiscal years 2017 to 2025.

“In order to fulfill our nation’s promise to its veterans to provide a high-quality senior living community with excellent support services as well as create an atmosphere for AFRH personnel to thrive under fiscally improving conditions, the Department believes a change in leadership will prove beneficial,” Sherwood said.

The Defense Department consulted private business and senior living experts, he said, and determined that new sources of income are needed.

“Recognizing the need for new and creative sources of revenue, the department determined that new and dynamic leadership with deep expertise in the senior living industry is essential,” Sherwood said.

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