Military Law

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What is Abuse of Power?

The term “abuse of power” means someone with authority over one or several other people uses his/her power to gain a benefit or other rewards. When a commanding officer tries to abuse his/her power, the victim can file a complaint with their chain of command or with the IG office on his/her base. The military usually frowns upon abuse of power and will investigate the allegations and proceed as the evidence dictates. The soldier can contact Experts who specialize in the proper procedure when filing an abuse of power claim.

How would a Navy sailor go about filing a complaint against his/her senior officer if he/she is a victim of abuse of power?

If the sailor believes that he/she is a victim then the sailor would need to contact their IG office on his/her base and file a complaint against the senior officer. The IG office may have the sailor go to counseling while they investigate the allegations. The sailor should not confront or tell the senior officer that he/she is filing the complaint with IG.

Is it possible for a soldier to have their discharge status upgraded if he/she has proof of positive life changes?

Case Details: Soldier was discharged due to abuse of power.

If the soldier’s discharge was within the last 15 years, then the soldier needs to file a DD293 form and try to get his/her discharge upgraded. The soldier would need to present the board with all their evidence that pertains to the abuse of power and that they have changed their life for the better and deserves the upgrade in the discharge. The chances are generally low, about 33%, due to the board rarely granting upgrades in discharge statuses.

Is it abuse of power if a commanding officer fires or disciplines a soldier for not attending a mandatory 2:30AM meeting?

Requiring a soldier to be at a meeting at 2:30am is not considered abuse of power since all soldiers are considered on duty 24 hours a day 7 days a week. If the meeting was meant to demean or embarrass the soldiers, then that would be abuse of power, but if it was not meant to demean or embarrass the soldiers then that is not abuse of power. If the command decides that discipline and/or termination from the job at hand is right for the soldier missing the meeting, then that is their decision and it is not illegal.

How would a soldier go about filing a Congressional Complaint against a military unit for abuse of power?

The soldier would need to contact their congressional representative. The soldier could contact the congressman of his/her district or contact both state senators. The soldier would need to do this either by writing (which is the best way) or by phone and also explain the situation. Once the complaint has been received, the senator or congressman will contact the military and start an investigation into the allegations. 

Abuse of power in the military is a very stressful and confusing situation. A soldier may feel that since the person is in a position of power, that he/she does not have any rights. The soldier would feel like they are alone and unable to stop the abuse of power. There may be several questions or concerns the soldier may face and he/she may need to consult an Expert for the guidance one needs to proceed regarding the abuse of power.

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