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A series of pertinent – and impertinent – observations about military justice


The Pentagon will: [a]  repay millions of dollars in California Army National Guard bonuses that were recouped from veterans;  and [b] eliminate the debts of more than 17,000 troops who had been on the hook for repayment.   So states DOD’s Acting Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness.

By July, the Defense Department will have reimbursed veterans who were sent to Collections for their enlistment bonuses, cleared thousands more of their potential debts outright, and sent several hundred more to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records for decisions in close call cases.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered a review in October after the Los Angeles Times broke news that thousands of numerous California guardsmen were being asked to repay their enlistment bonuses based on supposed ineligibility.

About 17,500 service members received disputed bonuses between 2004 and 2010.


Times are certainly changing, as reflected in three recent news stories involving tattoos, hair, and lifestyle accommodation.

·         The Air Force has dropped its ‘25 percent tat rule’

The Air Force has a new view on “ink.”

Airmen were previously not allowed to have tattoos on the chest, back, arms or legs covering more than 25 percent of the exposed body part.  Now, they will be allowed full tattoo sleeves on their arms or large back tattoos, if they wish.

Tattoos, body markings or brands on the head, neck, face, tongue, lips and/or scalp are still prohibited, according to an Air Force news release.   Tattoos on hands will be limited to one single-band ring tattoo, on one finger.  Airmen with hand tattoos that were already authorized will be grandfathered.

Air Force recruiters complained that almost 50% of their possible applicants had tattoos, and that one of every five had tattoos which required a review or exception to policy.

·         Dreadlocks:  Army has new rules on Afro-American hair

The services have grappled with the issue of black women’s hair in recent years. Some argue that hair regulations put an undue burden on Afro-American women, forcing many to spend  money on straightening, or even buying wigs.

After much Congressional interest, the Army has opted to let women wear dreadlocks along the same guidelines already allowed for braids, cornrows and twists.   They hair style  must be uniform in size and shape, evenly spaced, and can be up to 1/2 inch in width.

·         Religious accommodation for Sikhs, Muslims

Observant Sikhs and conservative Muslim women will now be able to wear religious head coverings such as the hijab.

Sikh male soldiers will also be allowed to maintain their beards.  They will still have to submit good-faith requests for brigade-level approval..

Since 2009, religious accommodation requests received by the Army have largely been from soldiers wanting to wear a hijab or a Sikh turban or patka with uncut beard and hair, says the press release.  When training or deployment calls for it, soldiers will still be required to wear combat helmets or other protective gear.

Comment: some of these changes are not new.  We recall Sikh Army doctors being permitted to wear turbans on active duty some 40 years ago.


ATTORNEY: So the date of the baby’s conception was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
CORPORAL: Getting laid

ATTORNEY: She had three children , right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
AIRMAN FIRST CLASS: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?


ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
STAFF SERGEANT: He was about medium height and had a beard
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
STAFF SERGEANT Unless the Circus was in town I’m going with male.

TDS ATTORNEY: Doctor , how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?

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