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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 19014
Experience:  Lawyer and current JAG officer.
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Hi, My son right now in Fort Jackson. He went to his place

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My son right now in Fort Jackson. He went to his place on 05/07/13. yesterday he called my sister and reported that for almost 4 day he is in a Psychiatric facility. He sad that he run away due to the some Psychological abuse from the individuals and solders catched him and placed in Psychiatric facility. A have more details of his phone call but I am not sure he was telling the truth due to the fact that he is anther the drugs. I WANT HIM TO CANCEL THE CONTRACT AND LEAVE THIS PLACE. Please help me, what we need to do in order to exit correctly?

Thank you,

Thank you for your question today, I look forward to assisting you. I have nearly 20 years of legal experience in various disciplines, including JAG.


I'm missing quite a bit of information, as I'm sure you also realize you are missing a lot of information too.


You need to call the base chaplain at Fort Jackson to express your concerns.


That being said, leaving the military is not as simple as just canceling the contract. We, as soldiers, don't actually have that right. The military has the power to cancel a contract and your son can certainly request that it be canceled through his medical care providers. But you as a parent have no legally recognized right or authority to do anything for your son, in terms of making that request. To join the military, he was either of legal age to enter the contract on his own or you signed a waiver of your parental rights to allow him to join. Either way, the legal contract exists between your son and the military, so any actions have to be initiated by him.


He can certainly request separation based on numerous different medical issues, failure to adapt to military service, etc. But again, those separations are decided by the military. Neither you nor I have the power to force the military to do anything, in that regard.


So, your best option right now is contacting the base chaplain who can go see your son, communicate with him and make sure he is being treated well.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I would like to make sure that I get you info correctly. He needs to go base chapman and request a separation. Will he be punished for run away due to his mental condition? Will this step affect his life being?

thank you

No, you need to call the base chaplain if you want more information. That is for you, because that is someone that can work with you, not out of legal obligation but because as a chaplain they tend to want to help people.


He needs to work through the medical staff and his chain of command in order to request a separation.


He technically could be punished for running away, yes. It will all depend on what he did, how long he was gone, etc. If he ran and went to a medical facility, that is one thing. If he ran and they had to come catch him and take him to a medical facility, that is another. Again, we are both missing too many facts here to know exactly how this will turn out. If he is having psychological issues though, that would be a fact that the legal counsel assigned to him to help him would take into consideration.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
In addition to my question I would like to ask you one more. Yesterday, I have spoken to the Doctor regarding the info that my son is in currently in the Psychiatric facility with a diagnose Psychotic disorder . The Doctor said, that they are in a process to complete the separation. I would like to know if somewhere will be a record that will affect his future- that he was separated due to the Psychiatric diagnose .

Thank you,

That will depend on what type of discharge that they give him. If they give him an entry level status separation, there may be one location on his DD Form 214 that states (in the narrative) that a mental disorder or adjustment disorder was the basis for the discharge.


That generally should have no effect on his future, though in some rare cases, employers seek that information out and make employment decisions based on it.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I have an additional info to my case . Today my son called me and informed that a drill sergeant came to the Psychiatric facility and asked him to sign papers. In the document he saw the statement" due to the absent without leave" and now he is thinking that because of this, they will put him in a jail due to this statement. My son said, and the Psychiatrist confirmed a few days before, that he did it because of his Psychotic disorder. Could you please let me know what is AWOL means in his case.

Thank you,




I can't really answer that question.


I'm completely blind as to what the command is doing here. I don't know what their goal is at all.


AWOL in general means absent without leave, which is the legal explanation for him leaving and going into this medical facility. Nothing that he signed, in terms of a statement, can reasonably be used against him considering his presumed medical condition.


Now, they may simply be using the fact of the AWOL as a legal justification for a separation. That is highly likely, but again, I'm blind to their actual motives in anything here. They could be trying to establish criminal charges, but given the facts here, that would be hard to do.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Do I need to contact them with any explanation ? Do I need to contact the Psychiatrist ?

I don't know what you have to add to their evidence really. If you contact them, you aren't going to convince them one way or the other. You are not in the military and you are going to immediately be considered a bias witness.


The only thing they will accept from you is exactly what you don't want to give them, anything that corroborates their current position.


I understand your desire to be involved, but in all my years in dealing with military criminal law, the involvement of a parent has not helped even once.


Contact your son or the psychiatrist if you want information, but you are not in any sort of legal position to make anything better for your son other than continuing to remind him to remain silent and work through his psychologist or attorney, once he is provided one.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

As I understand your answer they will file a criminal charge against him Right? Should I start looking for an attorney?


No, I did not say they will charge him criminally.


I have said that I do not know what they will do. I can't know. There is not a military law play book that forces a commander down any path. They have the legal discretion to go in many directions and neither of us have enough information to know what they are doing.


Statistically speaking, they will not charge him criminally. I say that only because criminal charges are the least likely result. It is more likely that they will simply use the fact of his AWOL as a legal basis for an administrative separation, like we've been talking about.


The fact that they took a statement from him does not necessarily change that as a potential result, but they can technically seek criminal charges. I don't see that as a particularly good choice for command. I would advise them against it, but in the end it is the commander that makes the choice on whether or not to charge someone. It is higher level commanders, with the benefit of JAG advice, that decide on how far those charges go.


The best thing that you can do for your son right now is continued contact, working through the psychiatrist, chaplain, etc. to get information. However, the command doesn't have to inform him of their decision until they actually start going down the path.


When, and if, he is appointed an attorney by the military, you'll then know that it is time to find an attorney for him. You can certainly look for one now, but that attorney won't have the legal ability to do anything unless and until he is charged. He has no legal right to an attorney until he is actually charged, so you'd be hiring an attorney that can't actually gain access to him.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I was reading one more time from the beginning ...and I want to provide you with more info that I am thinking you are missing. This is what the Psychiatrist said when I was talking to her a few days ago. Due to his mental condition after a few days at the Basic training he felt that due to the fact that he was not able to perform his duties properly "they" will kill him. He went to the toilet , took a stone and tried to attempt a suicide. Then he realized that he was not able to do this and he started running . Then they caught him and placed in the Psychiatric facility. What about AWOL with this additional info...

It doesn't really change my answer here.


Yes, they can technically charge him with AWOL. They have been able to do so based on all of the other facts that you have given thus far.


The issue though is his intent in going AWOL and the psychiatric defense. Those won't stop a commander with charging him, but you may be misunderstanding what being "charged" means.


That simply means that charges move forward. It is not a pronouncement of guilt or innocence. That would have to be made by a court, considering all evidence, including his defense of lack of intent due to the psychiatric issues.


So again, I can't tell you what his command is going to do, just what they can do. They can charge with AWOL on these facts. They can also not charge him and simply discharge him.


Your additional facts don't change that basic situation here.

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