[This is follow-up to a matter discussed in a 31 March Blog Posting discussing pending matters. The case was favorably resolved for Client last month on 19 April 2017 with an Administrative Discharge and final release from active duty (REFRAD)]
AWOL Case Study
Matter: AWOL, Returning to Military Control after an Extended Absence of 14 Years
Summary: This case involved the safe and successful return of our Client to military control from an AWOL status, and his subsequent administrative (vice court-martial) discharge from the service.
Our client went AWOL from Ft. Hood, Texas in 2002 when he was 21 years old. He listened to a barracks lawyer at some point before he left who told him that if he returned in less than 30 days he would be ok. He returned to post after 28 days believing his unit would simply discharge him administratively at that time. They didn’t. Instead, he was assigned extra duties, and life became extremely challenging. After about 10 days of what the client felt was unjustified and abusive treatment, he again went AWOL, returned home, and began looking over his shoulder figuratively – and sometimes literally — for the next fourteen years.
He married, worked hard, went to school and graduated with honors in accounting, and began the process of obtaining his CPA license. Additionally, he was a non-citizen, green card holder. He knew that U.S. citizenship and professional licensure were likely out of the question so long as his AWOL status remained unresolved. But, he was afraid that if he returned to military control he would be prosecuted, convicted and likely jailed, and that everything he had worked for and accomplished in the fourteen years since he left Ft. Hood that second time would be lost. He also worried about the possibility of deportation. Finally, his wife, realizing that something had to be done, urged him to face reality and take care of his business.
He called our office and I spoke with him at length about what needed to be done. I also helped him understand what the process would likely entail, what the various outcomes could be, and how long things would take to resolve.
After extensive coordination with the client, his family and with the client’s parent unit and that unit’s servicing Judge Advocates, together with a careful plan to address each step of the return process, and with some realistic and high-minded help from various sources, we were able to avoid a court-martial and near certain felony conviction for this client.
Result: While the client’s command chain recommended a court-martial, the General Officer convening authority — on the advice and counsel of his SJA, and that SJA’s senior Trial Counsel — ordered our Client discharged administratively.
Highlights: Seeing a deserving, intelligent but very nervous man courageously face the consequences of his long ago actions, and in the process successfully become free and clear of his, “unfinished business” with the Army.
Finally, I have to credit the major installation Senior Trail Counsel, her Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) and his boss, the acting Commanding General (CG) who made the final decision not to prosecute my client under the UCMJ for his long ago transgressions, over and against chain-of-command recommendations to the contrary. That decision will resonate with my client, his family and their fortunes for the rest of their lives. Many thanks, therefore, are due to everyone involved in this one. I am extremely grateful indeed.
References: Please call us at 214-363-1828 or email us at email@example.com for further details and contact/referral information for the client. Client’s Testimonial appears below.
Client’s Testimonial: “Words cannot express how good of a lawyer Bill Meili is. I had an AWOL case hanging over my head for 14 years. Before I contacted Bill, I called multiple lawyers to handle the case. It seemed most of them just wanted to prove that it was a complicated situation so they could take a huge amount of money from me. Bill, on the other hand, was very caring and actually wanted to solve my problem before even talking about money. Bill did an amazing job! He handled all issues and the necessary defense paperwork and briefs, traveled numerous times to Fort Sill and Fort Hood, Texas, and overall made sure I was safe and that my case was being properly handled by the government. Without a doubt Bill is not only committed and dedicated to his work, he is an honest, caring and a loving person. His experience and knowledge got me out of the Army with an administrative discharge. There were other similar cases to mine on the base which ended up with jail time for those soldiers. I was so glad that I had Bill Meili on my side to take care of me. I am sure if it was not for Bill, I would have had the same results as others and ended up with a federal conviction. I recommend anyone and everyone who needs any assistance — no matter how tough the situation is — call Bill Meili without any hesitation. You will appreciate it and will have no regret in your life.”
Client wishes to remain anonymous
Looking back over the month — it would appear that we’ve been fairly busy — to wit:
3 Feb: Submitted a Show Cause – Board of Inquiry rebuttal/response for a senior reserve Army officer;
9 Feb: Submitted a request for reconsideration appeal to the Department of the Army Suitability Evaluation Board (DASEB) for a company grade active duty Army officer;
17 Feb: Delivered a request for reconsideration on an Unqualified Resignation (UQR) action for a senior active duty Warrant officer;
20 Feb: Submitted an appeal to transfer a General Officer Reprimand (GOMOR) to DASEB for a field grade Army Reserve officer;
22 Feb: Coordinated a diversion program track for a civilian juvenile client facing a felony aggravated sexual assault charge;
23 Feb: Began a coordinated, managed defense for an AWOL return to military control matter;
27 Feb: Heard that the client’s command chain in the 3 Feb matter above recommends favorable action on our requested relief, and;
28 Feb: Received word that the government/military command would not be preferring UCMJ charges against an active duty enlisted client.
Grateful for the opportunities presented along the way, and for the help and support of many, without which none of the above would have been possible. Stay tuned. v/r Bill
Phone: 214 363-1828
We received some good news from the Army Review Boards Agency (ARBA) a day or so ago. The decision came in from the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB) panel we argued the case before last month in D.C. The five, active duty colonels voted unanimously to grant our client relief. This was long in coming, but extremely gratifying on many levels …. and not a bad way to kick off the New Year! This was also a first of its kind case for our practice. Our client was a former active duty Army recruit in basic training, who was administratively separated for medical reasons, within the first six months of his enlistment. His discharge certificate (DD214) read “Uncharacterized,” and this has been causing him significant problems with potential employers over the past several years.
His service though had been exemplary in the short time he was in, and he was cited for meritorious conduct before his discharge. We argued that and asked that his DD214 be changed to an Honorable characterization of service, which is almost never done with entry level separations. But, this officer panel agreed with us, and voted accordingly, upgrading the discharge and changing both the narrative reason for separation and the RE Code.
If you care to know more about this case, I’d be happy to discuss it in more detail.
Office: 214 363-1828 or 866 578-0164; Cell: 214 536-3888
v/r Bill Meili
Good news shared is good news doubled. Great call just now with a combat aviator I’ve been partnering with last month or so. Big Army removed, effective today, an additional ADSO he’d been carrying, (GI Bill benefit transfer). This now clears the way for a deletion of PCS orders and acceptance of his Unqualified Resignation (UQR). So, he’ll be able to ETS on time and in the geographical area where his family resides. Quad Fecta !!!! Love it when things come together like this.
If you, or someone you love, needs help with any or all of the above, give us a call. Thanks.
In light of changing times and administrations, here’s a blog post I drafted about 5 years ago. The info still holds. If you’re in the IRR and past your 8 year statutory obligation — (your MSO) — you might want to check your current status. I can help with that. Also, if you know someone in the Army nearing his or her MSO, please feel free to pass this on. Thanks. v/r, Bill
This was a case of a Dental Officer who was going out on an Honorable because he couldn’t pass his final licensing exams. The Army had brought him on board with the understanding that he had to pass those exams within a year’s time in order to become fully credentialed (licensed). When he couldn’t, the Army started elimination action for substandard performance. But shortly into that process, he w…as stopped on post by MPs for suspicion of DWI. No charge was ever formally filed, and the evidence was questionable. But as is almost always the case these days — his CG issued a GOMOR (General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand), and the servicing SJA office recommended a Show Cause action for misconduct. (Did I say no formal charge was ever filed???) So now he was in jeopardy of going out with a less than honorable characterization of service for being a bad actor. Not necessarily career enhancing in the civilian world.
We fought it over the past six months up to the Assistant Secretary of the Army level … and the ASA, suprisingly I have to tell you … issued an honorable discharge characterization. Our client left active duty on the 15th of September and started a new job with a civilian dentist two weeks ago. This dentist will provide the necessary supervision and oversight until such time as our client enters a fellowship program with another professional. If he does well in both places — with both Docs — he’ll be a fully licensed, credentialed and accredited dentist under the laws of this jurisdiction.
And that’s a good news story for any day of the week. (You can also read this Client’s Testimonial on our website’s (meililaw.com) testimonial page. Thanks. Bill Meili
Never lose hope, and don’t give up!
Finally, after nearly two years of playing administrative Tug-O-War with half a dozen levels of Army command and control, my doctor (officer) client’s Unqualified Resignation (UQR) was approved with an Honorable discharge. It should not have taken anywhere near this long, for all sorts of valid reasons … but we’ll set that aside for the moment, and enjoy this decision and victory — long in coming, but sweet nonetheless!
As I’ve said before in previous posts, if you’re considering an unqualified resignation, (UQR) — whether or not you have a remaining service obligation — please contact us. I’d be happy to discuss your situation in detail, and help with a way forward. Office: 214 363-1828; Cell: 214 536-3888 or feel free to visit the website http://www.meililaw.com for more information about UQRs generally.
v/r Bill Meili, COL (Ret.), JA, USAR Attorney and Counselor at Law