Despite the highest virtues espoused by the United States armed forces, some individuals slip up and discredit their institutions. Although their motivations range from poor judgment to egregious lack of integrity, each transgression is a mark against the U.S. military. Here are some of the most memorable scandals we reported on in 2014.
Responsibility for 150 nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles is not a responsibility to take lightly. To keep service members sharp, the Air Force requires units in charge of such weaponry to take monthly proficiency tests. Unfortunately, certain members of the 341st Missile wing were found to be cheating on these tests. As a result, Col. Robert Stanley, commander of the 341st, resigned, nine mid-grade officers were fired, and 79 junior grade officers were disciplined.
One of the benefits veterans have is access to government health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. However, 2014 saw the uncovering of glaring, dangerous deficiencies in the care provided to former service members. Days after former VA Chief Shinseki resigned from the position, 18 veterans were discovered to have died from potential lack of care. The deaths took place three weeks after 17 deaths had been attributed to long wait times for VA care.
A transgender Filipino woman, Jennifer Laude, was found dead early in December having been drowned in a toilet bowl. The Philippine government charged and detained U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton for killing Jennifer. This tragic case fueled ongoing tensions regarding where American military personnel should be held when they are charged with committing crimes in the Philippines.
Lt. Col. Joseph Morse acted as the supervisor to the Army’s special victim prosecutors, but has recently been investigated for assault of a female lawyer. Morse was removed from his job when the allegations were made, but no charges have been filed. The female lawyer claimed that Morse attempted to kiss and grope her against her will at a sexual-assault legal conference over two years ago.
A female Captain in the U.S. Army alleged that Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair forced her to perform oral sex during a three-year extramarital affair. As part of a plea deal, Sinclair pleaded guilty to the lesser charges while the sexual assault count was dropped. Capt. Cassie L. Fowler, the military lawyer representing the accuser’s interests, argued that dropping the graver charge would impair the Army’s broader interest in prosecuting sexual assault.
12 Sailors are under investigation for viewing roughly three to four covertly recorded videos of female shipmates undressing in the shower area of the ballistic-missile submarine Wyoming. Only one sailor, a second class petty officer, is believed to have recorded and distributed the videos via a smart phone, but 11 others are believed to have viewed the material and failed to report it to their superiors.
Allegations of unspecified misconduct, called an “inappropriate command climate,” have led to the relieving of Capt. Gregory McWherter of his duty. A probe into McWherter’s command began under the direction of an anonymous admiral on the heels of a complaint about McWherter’s command from November 2008 to November 2010 and May 2011 to November 2012.
Dermot J. Call, an official with the Air Force Academy Athletic Corporation, a non-profit organization which supports athletic programs at the Air Force Academy, was arrested in Colorado Springs for allegedly soliciting sex for cash from an undercover police officer. The Colorado Springs police Sgt. James Sokolik confirmed the arrest of Dermot Coll. After the arrest, Coll stepped down from his position.
During the recruitment of potential West Point students, football players were courted with alcohol and excessive treatment including a police escort and unaccounted cash. Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., superintendent of West Point, took full responsibility of the transgressions but disputed some of the finer points, including the allegation that female cadets were recruited to show the prospective students “that there are pretty girls that go [to Westpoint].” Caslen stressed that West Point has worked to improve conduct within its athletic programs, including hiring third-party consultants.
In an attempt to raise money for a Navy Submarine Ball, Capt. John P. Heatherington approached strip clubs to donate. While he did approach other businesses, the Navy claimed in a news release that the strip clubs were not representative of the Navy or the Department of Defense’s standards. His relief was “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command and for promoting an unprofessional command climate.”