Probationary Officer Board of Inquiry Work, Playing the Waiting Game, and A Case Never Filed

Recent activity in the past three months since my last post has centered around Boards of Inquiry Defense for probationary officers.  Show Cause/BOIs for probationary officers — typically those with less than 5 years of commissioned service — are particularly challenging, because of the lesser amount of due process provided by regulation.   In plain language, if the local command recommends a characterization of service no worse than a General, Under Honorable Conditions, the probationary officer has no recourse to present his or her case to a “live” board of officers.  It’s simply a paper presentation to his command chain for a decision by the GOSCA (usually the CG of the local installation).

That said, it’s so important to engage the chain of command early and often in order to have some hope of swaying a recommendation from them for retention, or in some cases even to close a case without it going forward.  Also, it’s essential for the lawyer to call on the servicing JAG or SJA’s office so that an early and substantive dialogue can be initiated.  Without that, especially in a case where there is no “live” board to advocate before and with,  there is virtually no effective way to sway the GOSCA towards a more favorable view of the respondent/client.

In addition to the probationary officer cases mentioned, the office has several Army matters still hanging fire, waiting decision at DASEB on GOMOR appeals and at DASA on one of those BOIs, as well as a UQR (Unqualified Resignation appeal) now at HRC for an Army aviator, and one Marine case pending at the PERB (Performance Evaluation Review Board at Quantico) where we’re seeking to correct a Fitrep injustice.  Keeping fingers crossed on all.

Finally, I wanted to share an unexpected bright spot which came to my attention this morning.  I had worked with a family the past two years on a civilian, criminal matter.  Thankfully, and with a lot of work by many people on both sides of the aisle, the state made a decision to decline prosecution.  No case was filed.  The bright spot this morning came in the form of a few words posted by my client’s father to a social media platform.  Here’s the post in his words, and I’m forever grateful for Rob and his entire family that the result was what it was:  _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Posted by Rob on Avvo.com

“Our Son was in significant trouble and we knew right away that he was going to need the absolute Best Representation by a Knowledgeable and Thoughtful Professional. You see, I was in a position where I knew Bill, not well, but well enough to know that in my heart I could “Trust” that Bill would do everything in his power to help our Family. He did just that and a lot more!”

“You see, Bill not only gave my Son all that he had, he poured his heart into my Family, literally keeping us in one piece. This is what gave us all strength to get through our long and difficult journey. I hate to think where my Son and my Family would be without Bill in our Lives.”

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JUNE 2017 — Half a Year in the Books!

What a ride it’s been this year.  Grateful for the opportunity to help many facing adversity and rough patches of varying degree and scope.

Had the distinct pleasure to work with some remarkable people this past month. Looking forward to favorable decisions in two of those cases, and, equally, to a new challenge next month on a third. Warmest wishes to all for a safe, sane and easy Fourth of July holiday weekend!   Bill


ARBA and the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB) Panel

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

 


Busy, Rewarding, Successful Past Six Months at Meili Law

Here’s a quick sample of what’s been on our plate at the office this past half year.   We greatly appreciate the continued trust, support and good will of our clients, their families and friends, and for the great people of this country who wear the uniform.
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 1.    February 2015 — Board of Inquiry (BOI), Officer:  Result:  Board withdrawn as a result of negotiations and response to Show Cause — client retired honorably with full medical benefits;
2.    March 2015 — Board of Inquiry (BOI), Officer:  Result:  Show Cause Board held with unanimous vote to retain.  Officer continues an 11 year active duty career;
3.    March 2015 — Appeal to the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records (AFBCMR) to challenge a GOMOR;  restored honor to a career 0-6 professional;
4.    April 2015 — Board of Inquiry (BOI), Officer:  Result:  Board was withdrawn as a result of negotiations with other side and our rebuttal brief to the GOSCA – General Officer Show Cause Authority, officer retired honorably with full medical benefits;
5.    April 2015 — Board of Inquiry (BOI), Officer:  Result:  Show Cause Board held with unanimous vote to retain.  Officer retired honorably with full medical benefits after 18 years service;
6.    May 2015 — Appeal brief to the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB);  Seeking to change an Uncharacterized discharge to Honorable;  Case pending an in-person hearing before the Board;
7.    June 2015 — Another appeal brief to the ADRB;  Seeking to change a General discharge to Honorable for PTSD medical reasons versus the misconduct discharge issued;  Case pending record review;
8.   July 2015 — Board of Inquiry (BOI), Officer:  Result: Board postponed as a result of preliminary negotiations with JAG, Case pending an alternate, non-punitive, administrative resolution;
9.   Aug 2015 — Board of Inquiry (BOI), Officer: Senior officer’s 25 year career in the balance;  Case pending;
10. Sept 2015 —  Appeal to DASEB to have officer’s GOMOR transferred to the restricted fiche;  Case pending review;  and
11. Sept 2015 —   Appeal to the Secretary of the Navy (ASN, M&RA);  Seeking to have Client’s debt remitted;  We’ll submit the appeal brief to the Pentagon later today.
That’s it in a nutshell.  Onward and Upward!     Bill

Recent Activity — UQRs — Unqualified Resignations — Federal Debt Reduction Process Through DFAS — GOMOR Defense

Back again with a quick snapshot of some recent activity:

1. A former Naval officer (medical student) seeking to have all or part of a recoupment of educational funds order/debt overturned or negotiated through a compromise offer process. Two weeks ago, DFAS approved our compromise offer, effectively cutting the client’s 10 year old federal debt in half and then some;

2. Army medical officer (obligated) seeking an Unqualified Resignation; As of 31 July 2014 this action has received initial approval;

3. Army medical officer (non-obligated) seeking an Unqualified Resignation; As of 31 July 2014, this action has also received initial approval;

4. Army officer (Adjutant General) fighting a potentail career ending General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand and promotion passover; As of 31 July 2014, still awaiting word from DASEB – Department of the Army Suitability Evaluation Board;

5. Air Force Officer fighting a potential career ending Inspector General report of investigation; We’re preparing the appeal for submission to the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records;

6. Former Army Officer (Nurse Corps) fighting a misconduct separation, and seeking to have that less than honorable discharge changed to an honorable, medical retirement ; and …. Ongoing prep for an appeal to the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB);

August is here.   Everyone connected with the firm appreciates your continued support.

Respectfully, Bill Meili, COL (R), JA, USAR, Attorney and Counselor at Law


Correcting the Record and Righting a Wrong

My job affords me the opportunity — from time to time — to level the playing field on behalf of folks who have suffered injustice. One such person came to me a couple years ago. Military officer. Combat leader, Infantry, in both Iraq and Afghanistan — superb record on both deployments.

He came back home, and ran into a couple of superiors in garrison who just flat didn’t like him, and apparently didn’t think he belonged in their “club.” Less than a year later, they placed an efficiency report in his official file which effectively ended his active duty career. Poof —ten-twelve years of brilliant service and sacrifice over.

My client did, however, have a number of fellow officers, both commissioned and non-commissioned who — at some peril to their own careers — were willing to stand up and be counted. By leveraging their accounts, together with my clients observations and hard work, we were able to tell an accurate story of this man’s entire career to proper military authority. Recently — and to our complete surprise I might add — we learned that the Army granted full relief, restoring our client’s position, standing and honor in the process. His own reflection about what this decision means to him is pasted below.

Whatever our positions, jobs, or life experiences are generally, I think all of us, at one time or another, have faced injustice or an unfairness which threatens our stability, peace of mind or career. It was really nice to see a government agency, which historically has had the reputation of being “deaf” to such claims, hit one clear out of the park. Kind of restores your faith in the right stuff! For those of you who know somebody currently going through the wringer facing injustice or, as we sometimes refer to it, “stuff that just ain’t right,” you might want to share this man’s story with them. Good, in this instance, triumphed over its opposite. And for that, I’m grateful for and humbled by the Army Board’s decision. My client’s thoughts follow:
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“Dear Bill,

I sincerely wish to thank you for providing me the counsel, guidance, and extreme honesty even when there were times I didn’t wish to hear it… However, there is something to be said of how you were able to listen to my case and ultimately wholeheartedly believe in me.

I love serving in in the United States Army. I love representing my country and leading Soldiers. But thank God for Counselors as yourself who decide to honor your clients by taking on their battles to ensure fairness and equity prevails in all matters. The work that you have performed went above the call of duty in my eyes. You have helped me restore my Family name.

I am humbled by my case. There are no words of mine that can bestow my highest gratitude or praise. However, I am extremely proud to know there are true Hero’s like yourself to ensure both sides of the story are explained to the exquisite details as you have done for me. Bill, you helped me persevere when I said “the task is too great… the accusations are unfair and unjust… and this US Army Ranger has climbed all the mountains in Afghanistan and went through all the alley ways in Iraq… this feat is just too grand”. However, you reminded me to persevere and to be strong as I have in the past… Prove them wrong while you demonstrate the highest military professionalism every day you wear the uniform.

I will always treasure your words of wisdom. As there was a time, I was at a loss of what to do. This was a true test for me and I am a much better person through this all due to your guidance. I am very pleased to call you my Friend.”

May God always bless you.

Very Respectfully,

DT
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If you’re facing an uphill battle in your career, and need help … please don’t hesitate to call or drop a line.

v/r Bill Meili
Office: 214 363-1828 Cell: 214 536-3888; email: info@meililaw.com