Military Service Members – Don’t Do Stupid Stuff!

Posted on Mar 17, 2017 By Ron Sykstus

Attorney Ron SykstusIn the private, civilian non-government related world, doing stupid thing can have consequences but, when someone is in the military and/or has a security clearance, the consequences of bad judgment and behavior can be exponential.  I am prompted to write this blog post based upon the disturbing news reports out of the Marine Corps. The military is always concerned about behavior that can affect troop readiness and morale.  The problem now for all of these Marines, especially current active-duty and reservists, is that they fall under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Sexual Harassment in the Military

With the heightened scrutiny regarding sexual harassment in the military, the chain of command of these Marines won’t go easy on them if, for no other reason, than the commanders don’t want to tarnish their own careers by doing nothing in light of this type of behavior.  I predict that the outcome of this behavior for the Marines that participated will be, if not a court martial charge, at a minimum, there will be non-judicial punishment and/or letters of reprimand placed in their official military files.  All of this will most likely lead to administrative separation from the military and may even include a negative discharge.  I have written about these issues previously.

To complicate matters, for anyone who engaged in this type of behavior who holds a security clearance, here are the questions that must be answered on the security clearance application form (SF 86):

Have you EVER served in the U.S. Military?

Were you discharged from this instance of U.S. military service, to include Reserves, or National Guard?

Provide the type of discharge you received:  Honorable; Dishonorable: Under Other than Honorable Conditions; General; Bad Conduct.

Provide the reasons for the discharge, if the discharge is other than Honorable.  Note that an explanation is required for ANY discharge not characterized as “Honorable.”

In the last seven (7) years, have you been subject to court martial or other disciplinary procedure under the Uniform Code of  Military Justice (UCMJ), such as Article 15, Captain’s Mast, Article 135 Court of Inquiry, etc.?

Other than those offenses already listed, have you EVER had the following happen to you?

Have you EVER been convicted in any court of the Unites States of a crime, sentenced to imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year for that crime, and incarcerated as a result of that sentence for not less than 1 year?  Include all qualifying convictions in Federal, state, local, or military court, even if previously listed on this form.

Have you EVER been charged with any felony offense?  Include those under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Behavior that is a bad idea in the private civilian world poses an even greater threat to our military personnel and for people who hold security clearances.  This can threaten a job and/or a career and can even jeopardize a security clearance required for a job.  If you believe that you are in jeopardy along the lines of your military career or with your security clearance, please feel free to contact me by phone at 256-713-0221 or by email.  As a former U.S. Army JAG, I have been helping active-duty personnel and veterans for several years.