Legal Question in Military Law in Washington

''Failure to Adapt''

I have been in the Army for one year; most of that year has been in TRADOC. I am currently at my first duty station; I have been late to a few times, and am having trouble understanding / communicating with my fist line supervisor. There is some talk of me being discharged ''Failure to adapt.''

Could this be a blessing in disguise with one year service don't I keep my GI Bill and possibly part of my sign-on bonus?

Alternatively I could loose rank, pay and face 45 days extra duty. (Working till 0000 7days a week!)

This sucks as I have a wife and three children. My wife can't work as the youngest of our children is very young and we feel like most of her income would go to child care anyway!

The questions are:

Is it even possible for me to get a ''Failure to adapt'' discharge at this point?

If so what benefits do I stand to gain vs loose (including PCS home etc.)

Please don't misunderstand I am interested in re-enlisting or possibly even trying to go medical officer after completing my education. I am not a punk or a ''Gold-digger.''

I just feel it may be much more economically viable to accept a discharge provided it is under honorable conditions or un-categorized assuming it is RE-1 or RE-2.

Asked on 6/02/09, 11:57 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Anthony DeWitt Bartimus, Frickleton Robertson & Gorny, PC

Re: ''Failure to Adapt''

Soldier, you need to figure out what you want. The Army is not a 9-5 job, and it demands a lot of the family as well as the soldier. Being late is not acceptable, and they can and will impose Article 15 punishment on you if you show a habit of being late. Buy an alarm clock or make some other change in the way you live in order to get to work on time. The Army is not going to accept your excuses, and all it will do is make your life hard for no reason.

Getting discharged for "failure to adapt" is not a blessing. It is a curse. Even if you get a general discharge and keep your benefits, you'll receive a bar to re-enlistment which would keep you from ever going back into another branch of the service. Years after you leave the military you'll be filling out job applications and the type of discharge you got from the Army will be an issue. No one enlists in the Army for 1 year. Even the dumbest of employers will figure out that you got canned from the Army. That will make it hard to find work and support your family.

Generally after you've served 180 days on military active duty you're entitled to VA benefits, but if they continue down the path of Article 15, then there is always the possibility that they can discharge you with a bad conduct or other than honorable discharge, which will prevent you from getting a security clearance, eliminate your VA benefits, and in many cases will preclude you from working as a police officer or government agent.

Sometimes a wife and small children don't understand that the military is not a job or an occupation, it's a contract with specific criminal penalties for non-performance. If you piss off the manager of McDonalds you get fired. If you piss off your first sergeant, you're likely to get court-martialed. This means a felony conviction that will follow you the rest of your life. You and your wife need to figure this out. If you decide you want out, then you need to understand -- and that means both of you -- that you're entering an economy where the prospects of job seekers generally are pretty poor. Someone cashiered from the Army for failure to adapt is likely to be thought of as a bad risk for employment. In truth, you may face hurdles the rest of your life getting into a good college or professional school (medical school, law school, pharmacy school, etc.). No one wants to waste time or effort on a "quitter," and that's how you'll be labeled.

These are serious considerations, and deserve serious thought and study. You committed to the Army. The best thing to do is to honor that committment. I can't tell you how many times in a week I see a message on here about getting a discharge upgraded because now someone wants a security clearance or wants to be a cop. Many had stories similar to yours. They were young; they didn't understand, fill in the blanks.... This is the time when you decide if you are a man or not. I hope you'll make the right decision.

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Answered on 6/03/09, 9:55 am

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