A December 9 article in the Baltimore Sun tells the story of Donald R. Soeken and the organization he founded, the Whistleblower Support Fund. The article is, “Speaking the truth to power’: Ellicott City man’s nonprofit focuses on the welfare of whistleblowers,” by Janene Holzberg.
Holzberg tells how Dr. Soeken, now 77, blew the whistle on the practice of forcing psychiatric fitness-for-duty exams on federal employees who had conflicts with their managers. To help those targeted by the exams, Soeken founded the Association of Mental Health Specialties, now known as the Whistleblower Support Fund. The WSF has helped about 1,000 whistleblowers who collectively received about $100 million in court awards and settlements (Holzberg).
Soeken described his work with whistleblowers who were targeted by forced exams in a 2014 book, “Don’t Kill the Messenger,” further described on his author website. In a recent op-ed, he wrote that the situation surrounding the “Ukraine whistleblower” reminds him “how important it is to defend and support our truth-tellers, who often lose their careers as a result of reporting wrongdoing.”
If he could offer one piece of advice to anyone considering blowing the whistle in the intelligence community, it would be to hire an attorney to make the case while you remain anonymous, thus avoiding the intense scrutiny, job loss and possible death threats that often accompany such acts of courage (Holzberg).
To read about important whistleblower research conducted by Dr. Soeken and his wife Karen, see the New York Times article “Survey of Whistle Blowers Finds Retaliation But Few Regrets” by Clyde H. Farnsworth (1987).