US Soldiers' Complaints Commissioner ?

In some countries, the armed forces have an institute for soldiers’ complaints. In case a soldier feel he/she were mistreated, they may address that office with their complaint.

Here is an example from UK:

Is there a similar office for the US?
If not, what paths are open to US soldiers for complaints?

The two avenues of which I’m aware are the Inspector General and the military member writing to their congressional representative.

While the above is correct, it’s kind of “reaching for the big guns.”

Things may have changed since I was in, but we were always encouraged to resolve problems (or start to attempt to resolve problems) at the lowest level possible.

Every level of unit had an “Open Door Policy” through which a soldier could talk to their senior NCO or Commanding Officer about an issue.

So if my problem was squad or platoon level, I could talk to my company First Sergeant of C.O. If my problem was company-level, I could talk to my battalion Sergeant Major or C.O.

And while the military-religious culture may have changed over time, I always felt confident (when I was in) that the Chaplain’s Corps was available as well for real-world counselling (and not a “It’s God’s Will, Soldier” stock response).

Thank you!

Rule #1 in all services: “Don’t Make Waves!”

The job of the IG is often misunderstood by the rank and file. The first question the IG always asks is “Did you go through your chain of command?” If you did not try to resolve the problem through the chain of command they will send you right back. And the IG does not work outside of the chain of command. The local IGs work directly for the commander. Usually the division or corps commander. They will investigate and ensure that the commander’s policies are being enforced. But they don’t have enforcement powers. All they can do is make recommendations to the commander.

For dependants there are ombudsmen - command level all the way up to base level. I have gone through the base hospital’s patient ombudsman more than once. And there is always the Chaplain and Red Cross for different chain of command stuff [I went through the red cross once when the regular channels were cockblocked - I needed to warn mrAru he had been exposed to [caseous lymphadenitis](Merck Veterinary Manual), or as the guys on the boat nicknamed it SheepHIV :stuck_out_tongue:

This was back in the day when the only communication a dependent had was the infamous ‘familygram’ which could only be cheerful news until they pulled into port and managed to figure out whichever godawful phone system the country had and how to navigate it into making a call home.

[this episode had a much better end result that when his ex and I had a disagreement and she contacted the sub command and effectively made the USS Spadefish surface so the issue of who got the car could be settled. :dubious: She turned around and applied for and got a Visa and a Mastercard in his name, took herself and 2 friends in the car to Disney World and got the car in an accident while driving impaired in Orlando on the OBT. :smack: His career and financial history took a minor hit off that whole episode. He discovered about the plastic when he got the billing after he got back. :rolleyes:]

And the one soldier that I knew of that actually wrote their Congresscritter got back a stock “Thank You For Your Interest” form letter.

Most of the threats of “I’m going to the I.G.” I heard from soldiers who were on the receiving end of either a Summarized or Company-grade Article 15 (the ones who got Field-grade typically knew they were in the deep ca-ca and shut the hell up and took their lumps).

Might vary on branch (each branch of the military has its own culture and rules, though all of the rules necessarily are subordinate to the Uniform Code of Military Justice), but in the Air Force, we have the IG, who, as mentioned above, will first ask you if you attempted to resolve it in your chain of command.

Basically, you should endeavor to solve the problem at the lowest level, making your boss’s life a bit less difficult (he has enough on his plate without extra drama). If you have a problem with a guy in your shop, or with your room mate, you should talk to him first and see if you can resolve it. Ditto for if you have a problem with a supervisor or what not. If you get stopped cold at a certain level, you might try hopping to the next level up (but out of politeness, you should let the previous guy know that you are doing this so he doesn’t get blindsided) and see where it goes from there.

If a troop doesn’t have a leg to stand on, of course, going to higher and higher levels is only going to make him more visible as a screwup. Presumably he won’t do this unless he sincerely thinks he has been wronged.

ETA: This setup of course is based on the assumption that most people don’t actively try to be assholes, and will attempt to correct inappropriate behavior on their part once their attention is drawn to it. Every once in a while, you end up with two people who just really rub each other the wrong way, or someone who is an ego-maniacal asshole who is drunk on power now that he supervises three airmen.

If that doesn’t work, there is also the Inspector General office. I don’t recall if the IGs at each wing fall under the Wing King, or if they have their own chain all the way up to USAF/IG. I’ve only ever dealt with IG types for major inspections where they were seeing if we had our shit together. In any case, for most problems your typical troop is likely to have, the IG is effectively out of their chain of command (for instance, I know my squadron doesn’t have any IG personnel in it, but I couldn’t tell you if the Group or Wing didn’t. I don’t work up there.)