Reserve Captain Fulfills Contract, Can’t Resign
The Army Reserve is refusing to allow a captain to resign, even though he has fulfilled his service obligation, Shelley Murphy reports in today’s Boston Globe.
Jonathan O’Reilly wasn’t planning on a career in the military when, at age 18, he enlisted in the Army Reserve for eight years in exchange for an ROTC scholarship that paid most of his tuition at the University of Notre Dame. But O’Reilly, who turns 32 this month, said top commanders have refused to let him leave the Reserve, even though he finished his service obligation in May 2004 and has repeatedly tried to resign.
After eight years in the Reserve, including a weekend of service each month and about two additional weeks of training each year, O’Reilly said he submitted his first resignation letter in June 2004. It was rejected, according to the lawsuit, as were four subsequent resignation requests in 2004 and 2005.
O’Reilly said he was told initially that he didn’t have a compelling enough reason for wanting to leave. Later he was told he couldn’t resign because the Army was short on personnel with his skills as a captain and supply officer. One officer, according to O’Reilly, even suggested that the Reserve could extend his enlistment date to 2024, when O’Reilly will turn 50.
Steve Strumvall, a spokesman for the Army Reserve, said that he couldn’t comment on O’Reilly’s case, but that commissioned officers, including captains, are not automatically allowed to resign, even if they have met their eight-year service obligation.
The US Army Reserve, according to Strumvall, considers three factors when weighing a resignation request: personal hardship, previous deployments, and whether there’s a shortage of people with the same specialty.
Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Steve Ruscito, is commander of O’Reilly’s unit: the Second Battalion, 385th Regiment, First Brigade, 98th division. Ruscito said O’Reilly has served diligently and has supported his resignation. But, Ruscito said, commissioned officers serve at the pleasure of the president, and the rules for serving change in wartime. ”When we are at war, certain parts of our contract might be activated that would not be in place during peacetime,” Ruscito said.
Thousands of soldiers and reservists have been forced to remain in the service after fulfilling their enlistment obligations, under what are known as ”stop loss” orders. The orders allow the military to suspend the discharge of reservists who have been deployed or whose units have been alerted that they are about to be deployed. But O’Reilly’s lawyer said his client’s unit isn’t under a stop-loss order, and he hasn’t been activated for duty.
A number of lawsuits have been filed around the country by Army Reserve officers who have challenged the Army’s refusal to let them resign after their time of duty was up. At least four dropped their suits after they were granted honorable discharges.
O’Reilly, who is single and a certified public accountant, said he was reluctant to file the suit and has enjoyed his years with the Army Reserve. But his life has changed, he said, and it’s putting a strain on the small company where he works, the O’Connor Group, when he has to leave for Reserve training every year.
As I’ve noted before, there’s little question that it’s unfair to force those who volunteer for the military to stay on beyond their obligation while requiring nothing of other able bodied men. That the Army has a legal right to do this is hardly something an 18-year-old would be expected to comprehend.
Related links in the extended entry.
- James Joyner, “Backdoor Draft?” TCS, 11 January 2005.
Military Personnel, General
Army Stop-Loss Program Forces 50,000 into Extended Duty
Pentagon Report: Army Near Breaking Point
Pentagon Weighs Guard and Reserve Cuts
Myth of the Underprivileged Soldier
9th Circuit Won’t Stop Guardsman’s Deployment
Soldiers Sue over Extended Enlistments
A Military Stretched Thin
Counter-Recruiting Efforts Anger Pentagon
Military Recruiting Shortfall Hits Key Jobs Hardest
Military Attracting Fewer Black, Urban Recruits
Army Doubles Idiot Quotient
Army Recruiting High School Dropouts without GED
Defense Department Seeks to Raise Enlistment Age to 42
Pentagon Creating Student Database for Recruiting
Army Keeping Problem Soldiers to Keep Troop Levels Up
Army Using Video Game as Recruiting Tool
Army Offers 15-Month Enlistment Option
Army Taking Recruiting Holiday
Blue to Green Moving Slowly
Army Recruiters Say They Feel Pressure to Bend Rules
Recruiting Soldiers During Wartime Difficult
Military Recruiters Target Friends and Family
Recruiting During Wartime
RECRUTING AND MORALE
Army Not Punishing AWOL IRR Members
Backdoor Draft? Reservists May Face Longer Tours of Duty
IRR Call-Ups Slow to Report
Army to Call Up Recruits Earlier
Reserve System Needs Change
Further IRR Call-Up Expected
IRR Call-Up Redux
IRR Call-Up Scam III
IRR Call-Up Scam II
IRR Call-Up Scam
Leaving the Military Reserves