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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 20026
Experience:  Licensed attorney and former Navy JAG serving ashore, afloat and at the OJAG
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Hello, I am very concerned about my 20 year old submariner.

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I am very concerned about my 20 year old submariner. He likes his job, but has told me about a culture on board the submarine that has made it difficult for him to feel safe (a baseline need). He has expressed to me that during a recent underway he considered killing himself to get out of the situation. He assured me that he would never do that and that he just felt trapped. He did promise that he would see the Chaplain. I told him that I wanted to contact someone to get help on his behalf and he begged me not to do that (and he said that it would make things worse for him).
While I want to respect his wishes...he is my son and I am outraged about what I have heard. My priority is his safety. He outperforms peers in his duty section and he enjoys the actual work...he just has experienced an overwhelming amount of unfair treatment (hazing).
Any recommendations and options are greatly appreciated because he is due to go out on his longest deployment ever...
Thank you

Thank you for the information and your question and I am sorry to read that your son is having a difficult time in his Command. I can't second guess what is going on, especially since I don't have all of the facts from all sides. However, I can say that if he is actually being hazed (I have provided the Navy definition supplied by the Navy Inspector General's Office below) that is unlawful and violates a general order and can be prosecuted under the UCMJ.

You did have a good recommendation that he speak to the Command Chaplain. If the Chaplain is effective, then they will be able to help him resolve the situation and can speak to the Chain of Command on his behalf. Ultimately though, unless the Chaplain can help him resolve this, he will have to run a "request Mast" chit up his chain of command (COC) so that he can speak to the XO or CO about the hazing. The COC is responsible for investigating and stopping hazing. If, for some reason, he believes that his XO or CO are participating in the hazing, which I would be highly unusual, then he could either file a complaint with the Navy IG or his congressional representative. Those complaints though will be sent to the Command to respond to. In other words, there is no real way to avoid Command involvement in resolving this, although in the latter cases they will have to report to someone outside the Command as to what has happened and the resolution.

You can find out more about how hazing and how allegations are handled in the Navy, by going to:

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.

What is Hazing?

Hazing is defined as any conduct whereby a military member or members, regardless of service or rank, without proper authority causes another military member or members, regardless of service or rank, to suffer or be exposed to any activity which is cruel, abusive, humiliating, oppressive, demeaning, or harmful. Soliciting or coercing another to perpetrate any such activity is also considered hazing. hazing need not be verbal or psychological in nature. Actual or implied consent to acts of hazing does not eliminate the culpability of the perpetrator.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for the detailed answer. It is helpful.

As I had suspected there's no option for an anonymous complaint and unfortunately I would hate to make his time served worse in any way. It seems that the very system that's in place to protect one's rights also presents many barriers for being heard.

My main concern right now is his mental state when he's deployed and the mention of having a thought of suicide during his last underway is of deepest concern.

What might happen if I contacted the Chaplain myself or his CO? I don't wish to make things worse for my son.

Hello again and thank you for your reply. Although you can certainly contact either party, they will ultimately have to speak to your son. That doesn't mean there will be any reprisal, but since he is an adult and is the one with the direct evidence of the behavior, they will have to speak to him. That said, if he has mentioned thoughts of suicide, and that is known to his CO, then I have to tell you that he will have his clearance pulled and he will no longer be a submariner. I say that because this specialty requires extreme caution and rigid requirements for emotional, as well as other, stability, for many reasons, not the least is that they are involved in nuclear propulsion and also because of the nature of their work (being under the water for extended periods conducting secret operations.)

However, if he really is having those sorts of difficulties, then he may be better served in a different kind of command or elsewhere. That I can't say. But again, if he speaks to the Command Chaplain, that should, I would hope help get things resolved in his favor.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for the specific advice. I will talk to him today and let him know again that he must speak to the Chaplain (to avoid any calls from me to the CO, etc).

He enjoys his actual's just the existing hazing culture gets overwhelming for him.

Hopefully things will improve for him.

Thank you again for providing such detailed's a tough call, so I wanted to make sure not to interfere unless absolutely necessary.


You're very welcome and as a mother, I can certainly understand your concern. Best of luck to you and your son.

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