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How Many Of You Veterans Served With Someone That Had A Criminal Record?


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I joined the military in the late 1970s because I fell for the free education gimmick and I wanted some adventure while getting away from home. Viet Nam had just ended four years prior so I was a rarity in my high school class.

In the early 1980s the military did a RIF program where they washed out anyone that had a criminal record. Some of my shipmates were discharged after years of military service. In my Pat Boone frame of mind back then I was shocked that my buddies: a. had a record b. were being forced to leave and c. that some of them had a judge that told them they had two choices; do jail time or join the service!

From talking to older vets it seems that this was common practice to get trouble makers out of the county. From the guys I talked to back then, this practice was more common in the southern states.

These days it seems much harder to get in the military so I assume anyone that has a record would be rejected outright.

How times have changed.

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One of my best friends in the Navy was actually a West Point Cadet in his 3rd year when he heard that his sister was raped. He was from the South Bronx. He got a weekend pass, headed home and found the guy that committed that atrocity to his sister and cut him up with a switchblade. The guy nearly died, apparently. 
Instant ejection from West Point. 
He was brought up on charges and the judge said if he could get into the service he would allow him to go instead of going to prison. My Buddy enlisted for 6 years and that satisfied the judge. 
My friend re-enlisted and was planning to make a career of it and last I heard he had made Chief. I lost track of him after he had been in for about 10 years. 

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Now adays absolutely not , If you are in and get into trouble felony or misdemeanor most likely you will be discharged and if a serious heinous crime an all expense paid trip to the Brig .

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38 minutes ago, Sedalia Dave said:

Enlisted in 1982, I remember serving with a few that wound up in the Navy because a judge gave them a choice of enlisting or going to jail.

I had many of my fellow HS classmates that were given that exact choice and I graduated in 84 . It was a pretty popular option at that time . 

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I imagine it was a hold-over from earlier, darker times, when the thinking was; "Well, he can stop a bullet from hitting someone else!" and "The Army needs bodies!"

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I enlisted in 1970. 

If I served with any felons, I was unaware of it. I didn't ask. I didn't care. 

 

However, being where I was, I really did not give a flip if they had been felons, or not. As long as they were Americans, I did not care what their background, or skin color, or criminal history, was. 

 

Back then, I did hear tales of folks being given the choice of going into the military, or going to jail. I never knew if that was a fact, or not. 

 

But, in the military, at that time, one may believe a lot of things (a shot with a square needle, in the left "crotch", for instance.). After a little while in basic training, no matter how bizarre a story you hear, you will wonder if it could possibly be true. You come out changed, after 14 weeks of basic training. 

After being in country, I am still not afraid of anything I can see. I guess that is one of the more tame, side effects, that will last me the rest of my life. 

 

 

 

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I knew a guy, back around ‘63, was given that choice. The trick was if he joined up, he wouldn’t have a criminal record. Alas it did not help, boot camp was over Christmas, he left on his 7 day leave and did not return. IIRC he served six months in Portsmouth (Navy prison).

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I joined the USMC in 1978.  At that time they were asking specifically if I was joining to get out of a criminal conviction.  The recruiters told me that judges often gave that option and the Marines didn't want any criminals.  Send them to the Army or Navy.  That was back during the Jimmy Carter administration and after Vietnam.  They were reducing forces and I guess they were getting more picky.

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12 hours ago, Sedalia Dave said:

Enlisted in 1982, I remember serving with a few that wound up in the Navy because a judge gave them a choice of enlisting or going to jail.

Same here -- I enlisted in '73, first tour was in WestPac with a guy we called 'Shaky Ed'. He and his brother had been busted for moonshining (explains his nickname) in Tennessee and the judge gave them a choice of Graybar Hotel or Uncle Sam's Canoe Club.

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My experience is with Desert Shield/Desert Storm, OEF/OIF and more recently.

 

It was not uncommon to see sailor's coming through schools that had felony convictions waivered.  They could still serve but depending on the conviction could not hold clearances and could not do specific jobs.  Most of what I saw were drug related charges but also assaults.

 

During military drawdowns, these people may or may not be the first targeted (no pun intended) for early separation or declined requests to re-enlist.

Edited by Chief Rick
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During the surge in the mid-2000s, the Army had to drop the bar so low we were letting in high school dropouts and convicted felons.  Fortunately, as an MP, they were not assigned to me.  We still have standards!!!  But holy Moses, as a leader, I can assure you it was for the worse!

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2 hours ago, Cyrus Cassidy #45437 said:

During the surge in the mid-2000s, the Army had to drop the bar so low we were letting in high school dropouts and convicted felons.  Fortunately, as an MP, they were not assigned to me.  We still have standards!!!  But holy Moses, as a leader, I can assure you it was for the worse!

 

There was a news article in the lamestream media a few years ago about the problem with gang members joining the military so they could gain combat experience. Not sure how prevalent that was or how much of it was exaggerated.

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I knew a few.  When I was a Company Commander I had four in my outfit alone.

 

I also had three Navajos, two Apaches, and a Sac-Fox kid.  All great soldiers and fun to be around.  I also has a Shoshone laddie who was on my books, but I never lid eyes on him. I couldn't write him off as a deserter because he was still (a far as anyone could tell) on Okinawa.  He had gone over the hill when he was charged with killing an Okinawan pimp.  Guess I's have to say I had seven. 

 

Also had two of MacNamara's 10,000, those whose IQ was from 85 to 95.  No company was supposed to have more than one.  One of those had a record for busting his bosses's jaw in an apple orchard in Okanogan, Washington.  In talking to this kid I got the impression that he did exactly what I would have done in his place.

 

The other one was in the stockade waiting general court martial for stealing a car and wrecking it.

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Oddly enough when I was on active duty the Marines had pretty high standards when it came to enlisting. Much higher than the Army. 
 

 When I was at NAS Fallon our unit always got a few extra bodies to augment or repair shops.
The Navy tended to not send the cream of the crop. However, the Marines never sent us a problem child. 

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4 hours ago, Sixgun Sheridan said:

 

There was a news article in the lamestream media a few years ago about the problem with gang members joining the military so they could gain combat experience. Not sure how prevalent that was or how much of it was exaggerated.

It was true, unfortunately.  Don't forget I was a cop in a military town, too.  I ran into those guys all the time.

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A bit different but we had a thief in our platoon when doing Corp's training [ Infantry ] in 1970.

Came back from drill & he was caught going thru all the lockers..an Irish lad belted the absolute shit out of him..needless to say the 'crim was instantly discharged..I won't forget the floggin' he got !!!

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