Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New documents reveal military recruiter misconduct

[2 articles]

National Guard recruiters forged re-enlistment papers: report

http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0420/guard-recruiters-forged-reenlistment-papers/

By David Edwards and Daniel Tencer
Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Washington State National Guard recruiters repeatedly forged
re-enlistment papers in a desperate attempt to hold on to soldiers in
the run-up to the Iraq war surge, a local news channel's
investigation has found.

In one case, a soldier found himself fighting against deployment to
Iraq after re-enlistment papers with his signature on it appeared --
even though he never signed any such papers, reports Chris Ingalls at
KING channel 5 news in Seattle. [See below.]

And in another case, a sergeant who had signed up for a one-year tour
of duty was shocked to discover his enlistment papers stated he had
signed up for two years.

Former soldier Michael Patrick sounded the alarm when he discovered
forged re-enlistment papers with his name on them.

"Sounds crazy," Michael Patrick told KING 5. "Sounds like something
from a movie."

The Washington National Guard soon determined that Sgt. Wendy
Schaefer, a recruiter, had paid soldiers and civilians out of her own
pocket to sign up recruits. She also promised the Guard would pay
$1,000 for each enlistment.

According to Guard documents, Schaefer "created an environment that
may have caused some of these 'paid assistants' to fabricate
documents in order to get money."

"The documents we received in the Patrick case do not explain how
anyone would possibly think they could get away with signing over a
soldier's life," Ingalls reported.

In another instance, Sgt. Keith Jackson says he was confronted by his
superiors with enlistment papers showing he signed up for a two-year
tour of duty, when he says he signed up for a one-year tour.

"I didn't sign it," he told KING 5. "That isn't my signature."

"While the Guard denies the forgery it granted Jackson an honorable
discharge soon after KING 5 first told his story," the channel reports.

In neither case has anyone in the Guard been disciplined. Sgt.
Schaefer told KING 5 in an email that she left the Guard with her
record intact. And the soldier who forged the signature in order to
collect money from Schaefer has never been held to account either.

This video is from KING, broadcast April 19, 2010. [See URL for video.]

--------

Investigators: New documents reveal military recruiter misconduct

http://www.king5.com/news/investigators/Investigators--New-Documents-Reveal-Military-Recruiter-Misconduct-91534899.html

by CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 Investigators
April 19, 2010

New documents obtained by the KING 5 Investigators reveal stunning
details about recruiter misconduct in the Washington National Guard.

They expose the tactics of one "burned out" recruiter and raise
questions about what the Guard did when it caught her and another
soldier red-handed.

In 2006, the U.S. Military was straining to gear up for the "surge"
in Iraq. In November of that year re-enlistment papers were submitted
for Washington National Guard soldier Mike Patrick.

The problem was the signatures on the forms weren't his.

We showed Patrick 127 pages we just received under the Freedom of
Information Act, never before seen details about the investigation
launched when he complained to superiors.

"It sounds crazy. It sounds like something out of a movie," said
Patrick as he read through the paperwork for the first time.

Sgt. Wendy H. Schaefer is the signed recruiter on Patrick's
re-enlistment documents.

In a written statement to military investigators she said, "I became
very burned-out on recruiting." Later she wrote, "I was very
depressed and most of my work was done by others I paid to do it for me."

Schaefer admitted to paying soldiers and civilians from her own
pocket for each lead and promising Guard-funded bonuses of up to
$1,000 for each enlistment.

"It's hard to believe this would have gone on and somebody wouldn't
have caught this," said Patrick.

The Guard quickly recognized that signatures and initials on
Patrick's contract did not square. It determined that a soldier, who
served with Patrick, was paid a $1,000 bonus for Patrick's supposed
re-enlistment.

"I knew him. I didn't know him well," said Patrick.

Investigators determined that Schaefer "created an environment that
may have caused some of these 'paid assistants' to fabricate
documents in order to get money."

Schaefer would not open the door and talk to us when we reached her
at her Kent apartment.

She left the Guard, and in an e-mail told us, "They never took any
disciplinary action against me."

The soldier who was paid the bonus was also free to move along.
According to his Facebook page he now works for a military contractor
in Iraq. He wouldn't comment for this story. We're not naming him
because there is no record he was ever charged.

"It appears to me that nothing really was done," said Patrick. "It
sends a message of tolerance."

Mike Patrick did suffer with an unfavorable discharge rating that
held up his security clearance at a civilian job a couple years later.

The Guard apologized and upgraded him to a fully honorable discharge
a day after KING 5 told his story in 2008.

The documents we received in the Patrick case do not explain how
anyone would possibly think they could get away with signing over a
soldier's life. About the same time as Patrick's predicament, another
recruiter controversy was brewing, one that wouldn't be uncovered right away.

Former Sgt. Keith Jackson says he signed a one-year contract. But, at
the end of that year, the Guard claimed he'd signed a two-year
contract, which two recruiters swore they witnessed him sign.

"I didn't sign it," said Jackson. "This isn't my signature," he said,
looking at the document.

Just released documents show the recruiters, who had no connection to
Patrick's case, claimed Jackson was trying to "get out of (his
second) deployment" to Iraq, first by requesting a transfer and then
through his forgery claim.

Jackson's response: "I really don't know what to say to that. The
evidence says otherwise."

Perhaps Jackson's most powerful evidence is the re-enlistment
document itself, which says Jackson was sworn in at a recruiting
station in Issaquah on a date his travel records show he was overseas
for his full-time job as a military contractor.

"We couldn't have been in the same room together. I was in Iraq, he
was here," said Jackson.

In the document the recruiters certify "I have witnessed the
signature" on the enlistment form, Jackson's. But how could that be
if the signing happened over a cell phone as the recruiters claim in
their just-released statements?

While the Guard denies the forgery it granted Jackson an honorable
discharge soon after KING 5 first told his story.

The former Army sergeant's fight these days is in federal court.
Jackson sued the two recruiters in a case a judge dismissed on
procedural grounds. Last week, Jackson's attorney filed an appeal.

The Washington National Guard would not appear on camera for this
story. The Guard says military "careers ended" for soldiers in the
Patrick case, but it wouldn't specify if their discharges were
honorable or if they were punished.

The Guard says the Jackson case is another story, and that it stands
by the statements of their recruiters.

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