Coffee Strong, The Clearing Barrel, and Under the Hood Cafe and Outreach Center are GI coffeehouses located next to major military installations in Washington State, Germany and Texas. They provide service members, veterans and their families’ safe places for healing, for exchanging unfiltered information, and for speaking about concerns and experiences.
Reservists who move beyond a “reasonable” distance from their training units cannot be punished for not attending drills, contrary to what some members hear from their commands. Callers to the GI Rights Hotline report threats of unexcused absences and even attempts by their command to chapter them out of the reserves for unsatisfactory participation. Such measures, while intimidating, are not backed by the regulations and can be successfully challenged.
One of the best kept secrets in the military is that you have the right to petition your commanding officer (CO) directly for help. Article 138, UCMJ, can be one of the most powerful and effective tools for seeking redress from your superiors in a timely manner.
Often times people in the military are tricked, coerced, or misinformed into believing that they must sign certain documents such as extensions, reenlistments, job reclassifications, or an agreement to spend a remaining service obligation in an active guard unit. Most of the time such agreements are voluntary, but because of command pressure, the person signing them thinks they have no choice. The command creates the impression that the person must sign and then, after the fact, tells the person that they voluntarily agreed. However, if the command has the authority to require the military member to take an action, they can just cut an order. Being asked to sign normally indicates that the action is voluntary.
Many people contact the GI Rights Hotline with questions about conscientious objection (CO). This discharge is one of the few that you can actually request, and although it can take six months to a year to complete the process, applicants often leave the military with an honorable discharge and their benefits. Unfortunately, many military members who would qualify as conscientious objectors have been discouraged by misinformation about who can qualify and about the process itself. Read on to find out why conscientious objection might be just the right discharge for you.
September 20, 2011 will mark the end of the discriminatory policy barring gay, lesbian, and bisexual people from serving openly in the US military. But the DADT repeal raises unresolved issues, including how the military will deal with discrimination among the ranks against its homosexual members and the unequal treatment of same-sex vs. heterosexual couples.
Many members of the military with serious family issues never bother to apply for the hardship/dependency discharge because they have been told that they don't qualify, that it will take too long, or that nobody ever gets it. Often NCOs and sometimes even officers perpetuate the false notion that hardship/dependency discharges are practically unobtainable. In fact, that is not the case.