Legal Question in Military Law in Kansas

Officer/NCO relationship

I am a 1LT on active duty, deployed to Iraq. I am contemplating getting married to a SSG, on active duty, also in Iraq. He is in my Battalion, but not in my direct chain of command. There was a 15-6 investigation on him for adultery several months ago, because his wife at the time accused him of cheating on him with me. There was not enough evidence to find him guilty of adultery, or to find us guilty of fraternization. If we were to get married now, how much trouble can we expect to get into? He is planning on getting out as soon as we get back from this deployment, but we are looking at getting married by proxy, in case something were to happen to either of us. Any advice would be appreciated.

Asked on 1/31/09, 9:40 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Donald G. Rehkopf, Jr. Brenna, Brenna & Boyce, PLLC

Re: Officer/NCO relationship

LT - I hate to say this, but it is insanely stupid to be even thinking this after a 15-6 investigation. Depending on who your CG is, an Article 15, a career "buster" for sure, may not be in the works, rather a General Court-Martial is quite possible. A court-martial conviction is a federal conviction that unless you get a Presidential Pardon, does NOT go away and is not capable of expungement.

Don't think you can "hide it" because the walls always have ears, and since your Command has already been through a 15-6, they will assume the worst. Lay low until he's a civilian - getting married will only prove the fraternization that was suspected all along, only not proven.

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Answered on 2/01/09, 4:02 am
Anthony DeWitt Bartimus, Frickleton Robertson & Gorny, PC

Re: Officer/NCO relationship

While I have compassion for the need to make this arrangement work for the both of you, there is no way to do that under the current situation. You both can "take care of" each other by modifying your wills and sending them back to someone in the US for safekeeping. But getting married will end your career. I have seen this happen to nurses who got too close to their patients. Even if it doesn't get you disciplined, it will still affect your ability to lead.

A command will overlook one indiscretion; it won't overlook two. Even if you don't get prosecuted you'll get flagged and your military career will come to a much shorter end.

Karla Bonoff, the singer, said "the heart calls and the mind obeys." In this case, you have to avoid listening to your heart for a variety of reasons. First among them is that getting too close to NCOs impairs your ability to lead. It puts your men in jeopardy, and it damages the women in your command who are tarred with the same brush.

When you put on the uniform you make sacrifices. This is one of them. You have to walk away from this until he or you is out of the military.

Also keep in mind that intense stress often causes people to run past red lights they might see if they weren't under stress. It could well be the fear of impending death in combat that is propelling you toward bad choices.

All of this comes more as personal advice than legal advice. There is a chance that you could get married legally, but I would see that as simply compelling another investigation and likely a court martial. You should consult a JAG lawyer for additional advice peculiar to your situation.

Best of luck, and thank you for your service and most importantly, your sacrifies.

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Answered on 2/02/09, 9:57 am

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