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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Military Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 33803
Experience:  Retired Marine Corps lawyer and Veterans Services Officer (VSO) with 12+ yrs. of experience.
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I began a relationship with an individual in my unit who is

Customer Question

I began a relationship with an individual in my unit who is now an officer. I would not say that we were really "official" before she became an officer but I would say that our relationship was based primarily on activities that we did outside of the military (she was MDAY and I had only seen her once at the unit prior while she was still a specialist and we did not interact). I was planning on transferring to the Air Guard from the Army Guard. The transfer never happened and we are now in a situation where I would like to go to OCS, however she got a job at Officer recruiting and her handling my packet would be unethical. We are in the position where we have been dating for two years, we have been under different chains of command (Same battalion, different companies) and we both interpreted the policy on National Guard fraternization under the relationship being "primarily based outside of military activities" to mean that we were OK. Now that we definitely have to say something though we are wondering if we have been fooling ourselves and are worried how our chains of command will react. Regardless, we are staying together but we are both very dedicated to the military and I do not want a relationship that is perceived negatively to impact her career. Any advice on notifying our commands "officially".
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Military Law
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years military law experience.

I want to make sure I are in the same battalion? And are engaged in a personal relationship? She is a commissioned officer and you are an NCO/SNCO?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, we are in the same BN, different companies. She is an O2 and I am an E6. She does not fall in my rating chain or chain of command. I know that as guardsmen she would not fall under the UCMJ rules of fraternization, however, the WI state policy is pretty gray. At the end of the day we felt our relationship was based on outside activities and not really relevant to our MDAY duties. She then picked up an FTNG spot at Officer recruiting and before and during this period have been going back to school to get enough credits to go to OCS. She is now going to be in charge of the OCS packets which definitely creates a conflict of interest so now that we are definitely going to tell her full time bosses about our relationship due to that we are concerned that we may be viewed as having kept our relationship secret. While we did not inform our MDAY chain of commands from the start it has been two years and even though we feel that we are covered in the policy we are afraid that our commands will "blow up". I definitely want to be up front with her FTNG chain because having her handle my OCS packet would be unethical but I also don't want our MDAY command to feel like we deliberately "kept them in the dark". We have been together for a long time and always kept drill and our relationship separate. It is difficult because I would rather get out than see her career hurt but we both are very dedicated and neither of us want to leave. I know that various commands vary widely with how they perceive and deal with this sort of thing from transfer to trying to destroy people. At the end of the day what is realistic to expect? How should we go about this thing and what is the worst case? On one hand I am feeling a "should have known better/face the music" guilt and on the other I do not feel that we did anything wrong or violated the policy.

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 3 years ago.
I agree, what you describe does not violate AR 600 20. Do you have a copy of the WI policy (or can you tell me where to view it)?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Here is the policy. We are looking at the part regarding recruiters and recruits. We will definitely have to tell her full time bosses but once they know it will probably spread to our MDAY unit. Since we have not overtly told anyone on the MDAY it is anyone's guess what the reaction could be in addition to any adverse action in her full time job.













WING-Z 26 September 2007



MEMORANDUM FOR All Wisconsin National Guard Personnel


SUBJECT: Relationships between Wisconsin National Guard Personnel; Fraternization – TAG POLICY MEMORANDUM 10



1. The policy of the Wisconsin National is that improper relationships between certain categories of soldiers, airmen and dual-status technicians are prohibited. This policy is based on AR 600-20 and AFI 36-2909.


2. Relationships between Wisconsin National Guard members, including dual-status technicians, of the same or different rank are prohibited if they:


a. Compromise, or appear to compromise, the integrity of supervisory authority of the chain of command.


b. Cause actual or perceived partiality or unfairness.


c. Involve, or appear to involve, the improper use of rank or position for personal gain.


d. Are, or are perceived to be, exploitive or coercive in nature.


e. Create an actual, or perceived, adverse impact on discipline, authority, morale, or the ability of the command to accomplish its mission.


3. Certain types of relationships between officers and enlisted personnel are prohibited. Dating, shared living accommodations, except those operationally required, and intimate or sexual relationships between officers and enlisted are prohibited. Exceptions to this prohibition are detailed in AR 600-20 and AFI 36-2909.


4. Commanders and supervisors should tailor the application and enforcement of this policy to appropriately address unique situations that may arise from part-time service.


5. Other prohibited activities between officers and enlisted, applicable in all situations, include:


a. Ongoing business relationships such as borrowing or lending money. This prohibition does not apply to incidental activities such as selling an auto, leasing an apartment, etc., or



SUBJECT: Relationships between Wisconsin National Guard Personnel; Fraternization – TAG POLICY MEMORANDUM 10



relationships which exist due to civilian occupations or employment for M-day soldiers / traditional airmen.


b. Gambling between officers and enlisted members.


c. Any relationship between a recruiter and a potential or actual recruit, other than that required to accomplish the recruiting mission.


d. Any relationship between a trainee and trainer or cadre not required by the training mission.


6. Soldiers, airmen, and leaders share the responsibility for ensuring that relationships do not interfere with training, readiness, or personnel actions. An order to terminate an improper relationship can and should be given whenever it is apparent that lesser administrative action is not effective. Such administrative actions may include counseling, reprimand, reassignment; adverse actions may include such actions as bar to reenlistment, non-judicial punishment, separation, or court martial. A violation of a direct order to terminate a prohibited relationship is a violation of a lawful general regulation under the WCMJ, while instances of favoritism, partiality, or misuse of grade or position may constitute independent violations of the WCMJ, or the Joint Ethics Regulation.


7. All military personnel, to include dual-status technicians, share the responsibility for maintaining proper relationships. Commanders and supervisors should seek to prevent inappropriate or unprofessional relationships through proper training and leadership by example. But, in any relationship between soldiers or airmen of different ranks or grades, the senior member is generally in the best position to terminate or limit the extent of the relationship. Nevertheless, all members will be held accountable for relationships that violate this policy and underlying regulations.






Brig Gen (WI), WI ANG

The Adjutant General

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 3 years ago.

I have to step away and may not be able to review this until tomorrow am. If OK with you I will respond then

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 3 years ago.
Sorry for the delay.

I wanted to review this in detail

I do not see anything in this that is more restrictive than the Army Command policy. But there is this sentence

But, in any relationship between soldiers or airmen of different ranks or grades, the senior member is generally in the best position to terminate or limit the extent of the relationship.

That puts some pressure on your significant other.

Specifically, it will require her to put an end to this relationship, now that she is in a position where the relationship is illegal

Under military law, it either is fraternization or it is not.

I understand, there can be situations that seem "grey"....but at the end of the day, the relationship is either prohibited or not prohibited.

What you sounds like your relationship prior to this development (her being in a position to influence your career) was not illegal necessarily illegal. But it was a potential problem. You are in the same you are, essentially, in the same unit. The battalion is the smallest "command" that is the smallest unit that can deploy. Two soldiers in the same battalion are, in fact, in the same unit.

And with her new role, where she is responsible for a decision as to your future? It is even more clear.

So you/she have a choice

You can end the relationship.

Or you can marry immediately. And even this is not a sure solution to the problem, since arguably they can prosecute for the time prior to the marriage.

I understand your plan was to have her recuse herself from the decision...but that does not suddenly make the relationship legal again. It is her current position (that puts her in a position of authority over you) that makes the relationship illegal.

And while her opting to recuse herself from the decision is a good idea...that does not change the fact you are in a personal relationship that, based on her position, violates the regulation

That is why I believe if you end the relationship now, you would likely have no more problems (assuming she recuses herself). But understand that so long as she is in the position, and frankly, as long as she is an officer in your battalion, you are potentially subject to discipline.

Let me know if you have more questions...happy to assist if I can
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
This is why I wanted to get some guidance before she actually takes on her new job. I don't see us breaking up so I was wondering if finding a transfer spot for myself (there is a position nearby) and letting her FTNG command know the situation so they can have someone else handle my packet, or simply withdrawing from the whole idea of OCS are viable options. She is meeting with a very (O6) experienced Chaplin for additional guidance but at this point, I am trying to figure out the best way to go about all of this from as many sources as I can.
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 3 years ago.
Thanks could marry.

Seriously, if she has not started the new job yet? Then you have a good argument that there is no fraternization (yet). And if you marry? You are then immune for future conduct.

Or you could transfer...if you leave the battalion, then this becomes less an issue.

Withdraw of your application would remove the immediate issue...but if you are in the same battalion, and she is an officer? I suspect there will be more instances going forward where a potential for fraternization charges will arise.

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