Need advice on the Uniform Code of Military Justice

Once again I’m posting due to circumstances my brother finds himself in, but this time they’re not his fault entirely. He’s been in the Navy for over three years now and is nearing his discharge date. He also recently got married and his new wife is pregnant. However, since just before the wedding he has been harassed by his Chief and another officer (RMA? something like that) about how he would “become a wifebeater”, “end up sleeping with whores in every port” and “would be a terrible father”. He made no reaction to these statements at that time, but since he returned from his wedding leave it appears things are going downhill fast. Now they are accusing him of falsifying his certification records without, to my knowledge, any evidence on hand. The only motive currently mentioned by his Chief was a feeling that my brother was not “punished enough” at a disciplinary hearing that occured a little over a month ago.

To elaborate a little further on details, my brother is back in the division he originated in after a transfer to another division, during which time he was before a hearing on leaving the ship without logging out (I think. This is somewhat second-hand), due to a request from his current division commander. I believe they requested my brother’s transfer back solely for the purpose of harassing him. I also believe timing plays a significant role, since he is nearing an honorable discharge and I have heard nasty stories about officers attempting to find the tiniest infractions in order to give a general or dishonorable discharge.

What can my brother do? What should he absolutely NOT do? He has already attempted to go above these officers on the chain of command and has been denied any sort of hearing on the matter. My mother wants to write a letter to an officer he has not been able to reach due to interference at lower levels on the chain, but I’m not sure that’s the wisest idea. He has very little evidence as things stand, since all harassment has occured behind closed doors, and I feel it will simply turn into his word against a superior officer… at which point he loses.

I know we have former (and maybe even some current?) military people here. I might have gotten some of the technical details wrong, not being one myself, so feel free to correct me or question further. I just need to know what advice you all would give him.


He needs to keep trying to go up the chain, carefully documenting ALL abuses in an organized manner. Get witnesses, by any means necessary. Get recordings, if legal and possible. He also should have a talk with the Chaplain, who can sometimes handle things that are clearly wrong. The Inspector General also handles these things but “you better be right”. If there was a hearing on his leaving the ship, and the commanding oficer had told him to do this for some reason, any chief or sergeant with half a brain would have let the matter drop. I don’t think bullies like this would have the balls to actually file any sort of charges, since they would get their own asses in a sling once they were found out. I really don’t think any good officers or senior NCOs would be looking for ways to screw him out of an honorable discharge because their own careers could be destroyed. One way to see if these morons are serious (and IF your brother is squeaky clean) is to just wait for them to try and Article 15 him for something, and then demand a court martial instead. It’s awful risky, but might be enough to make the bastards re-think things.
I was only a Spec 5 in the Army, but I had plenty of things to do that were way more important than screwing with people for no reason.
Here is the warning - do NOT take my word as absolute, get someone who really KNOWS the UCMJ to advise you.

I’m trying to translate back into Navy-ese to figure out what’s going on here. But a couple of things to think about come to mind. Since this is IMHO, I am kind of shooting from the hip… it’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with sort of thing, but I did spend 10 years as a naval officer and continue to serve in the reserves.

First, having never met any of these folks, nor having read previous posts about your brother’s situation, I have to say my first reation is that you’re not getting the whole story from your brother.

Second, while possible, it’s extremely unlikely that they’re trying to screw someone out of an honorable discharge just to “get him back.” Characterization of discharge won’t get changed for “tiny” infractions. It’s also unlikely that they requested your brother come back. No division officer I’ve ever heard of ever tried to get a perceived troublemaker back INTO their division after they’ve left – it’s just too much of a pain in the ass to deal with someone who’s always getting in trouble, justified or not.

Third, if he’s going to be given anything beside a straight up honorable discharge, he should fight that tooth and nail. Every employer for the rest of his life will want to see his discharge (or will ask about it). He wants and needs an honorable discharge. A general discharge (under honorable conditions) is ok, but either a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge (BCD or “Big Chicken Dinner”) are akin to a felony convictions and will make it difficult to find work later on.

Another source of assistance for him is the Navy legal system. If winds up going to a formal hearing for something, he could consider at least going to talk to a Navy lawyer (his base should have a NLSO (Navy Legal Service Office) for just this sort of thing). If he goes to a hearing with his current command, the “prosecution” will be a clueless overworked junior officer from his command who will get eaten for lunch by an actual lawyer. Not all hearings allow him to be represented, but an administrative separation board should, IIRC, allow him representation.

Probably the best source of help should be his command master chief (CMC). Every command should have a CMC who an advisor on and advocate for enlisted sailors directly to the commanding officer. CMC’s can be intimidating to junior sailors, but they’re the best of the best. Every one I’ve ever met will bend over backwards to help a troubled sailor, as long as the troubled sailor truly wants to turn themselves around. If the CMC isn’t an option, another officer or chief would make a good sounding board. If none of these people are willing to listen and advise him, see my first comment. If there’s no one in his command willing to see his side of things, I doubt there a lot of accuracy to his claims of getting screwed.

If he’s just being “harassed” and is near getting out, I’d just advise him to suck it up and get out of the Navy when his hitch is up. If he’s on the road to an administrative separation board, he should be talking to someone who’s a military lawyer or at least a civilian who knows the UCMJ well.

Just writing to let you know I wrote a very long and thoughtful out post answering all your questions. Its in the bottom of the squirrel cage right now. :mad:

Just popping my head in to say that, as a junior active-duty officer (USAF), I may outrank the senior enlisted man in principle. But if one of my men went to the “first shirt” regarding something I’d set in motion, and the shirt told me I was barking up the wrong tree, well: the shirt reports directly to the Commander (in Navy-ese: the Captain, He Who Walks Among Men As A God, etc.). He is the shield under which enlisted men are safe from unworthy officers, and the fulcrum on which the Captain places his authority when prying bad officers out of his organization for the good of his enlisted men. He is the anvil to the Captain’s hammer.

So, for example, if I say “Seamen Simon is an idiot and I don’t like him and I’m going to give him a general discharge to fuck him up,” the shirt says “That’s maybe not the best course of action, in my opinion. I hope you’ll reconsider that, sir. Seaman Simon has talked to me and he thinks you’re not really looking out for the best interests of him or the ship. Respectfully sir, I hope we can bring this to a resolution without involving the Captain, because he wouldn’t like this.”

I say to the shirt, “Screw you, also any horse on which etc.” and the Shirt coughs politely and dismisses himself. He goes to the CO and says “Ensign Fancy-Pants fancies himself a God Among Men and does not Thy will but his own.”

CO is filled with a Great Wrath and summons me to his Domain in the absence of the Shirt and says “THOU SHALT NOT” under pain of all sorts of pain.

Matter settled.

The moral of this story should be clear: your brother needs the Command Master Chief on his side, and NOW.