By Marti Hiken
Co-chair NLG Military Law Task Force
Are you in the IRR and received your marching orders for Iraq?
IRR members have been called to active duty throughout the country. The marching orders state that you are headed for Iraq. The military does not have enough troops and has decided that you will fill its needs.
Many of you have simply not shown up and yet, have not had warrants issued to pick you up and have not been arrested. There have been reports from IRR members, however, who have received threatening phone calls and mail from the military, but still were not arrested. There are others of you who do not feel comfortable remaining in this no-man’s land.
The MLTF and GI Rights Hotline continue to receive many calls from Army and Marine IRR enlisted and officer members who have been called up. Here are some things to consider:
- Do you have a DD 214 in your hands that says you have been discharged? What is the stated basis for the discharge? What obligation were you discharged from? Too often GIs think they are discharged only to discover that they weren’t.
- For those who were actually discharged, you will need to “document” clearly the reason for the discharge to the military.
- Have you been discharged, but are still being “held” in the IRR for some reason?
- Have you previously been discharged and had your orders for discharge revoked? You are in a good position here, and a simple letter to the command might correct the situation.
- Have you requested delays or exemptions? Are you medically fit or is there a need for you to care for family members? Do you have grounds for financial hardship?
- If an officer, have you resigned your commission?
Two different viewpoints have been expressed by experienced MLTF members concerning how to deal with this situation. The first viewpoint asserts that nothing happens when IRR members do not report, and as one attorney states, “It is unfortunate that too many IRR members cave. A warrant is not the end of the line, but rather an opportunity to get a discharge from the IRR through turning themselves in at Forts Sill or Knox.” A “bad” discharge from the IRR has no affect on the benefits otherwise accrued.
The second viewpoint urges IRR members to always ask for extensions to delay their reporting dates as long as possible and to have attorneys assist them. One attorney states, “In my experience — just as we experienced with the Selective Service System years ago — the military personnel commands will frequently back off rather than fight over a particular person who effectively (and publicly) resists.”
Resources: DOD Directive 1235.13