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Sexual assault reports, DUI charges could disqualify Coasties

Mar. 22, 2014 - 01:14PM   |  
Coast Guardsmen facing some criminal charges or with other black marks on their records won't be able to re-up under new rules. Here, a re-enlistment ceremony on the 50-yard-line of Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium in 2011.
Coast Guardsmen facing some criminal charges or with other black marks on their records won't be able to re-up under new rules. Here, a re-enlistment ceremony on the 50-yard-line of Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium in 2011. (Coast Guard)
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Coast Guardsmen who’ve been convicted at court-martial, charged with drunk driving or have one of a number of other offenses on their record — even if they’ve yet to enter a courtroom — are no longer eligible to re-enlist, according to a March 7 servicewide message.

Members looking to re-enlist or extend their contracts after Sept. 17 will have to pass muster on a slew of new fronts, including their travel card use and weight. Those who don’t meet them will be honorably discharged or retired, depending on their length of active-duty service. Reservists will be separated.

“To ensure the Coast Guard retains a disciplined, high-performing workforce, re-enlistments and/or extensions should only be offered to those members (active and reserve) who maintain high professional standards and adhere to the Coast Guard’s core values,” Rear Adm. Daniel Neptun, assistant commandant for human resources, wrote in ALCOAST 093/14, released March 7.

To re-enlist or extend their contracts, members must receive a favorable recommendation from their commanding officers and earn an average of 3.5 or more on their enlisted performance evaluations.

Additionally, Coasties with the following strikes against them won’t be able to re-up:

■More than one unsatisfactory conduct mark.

■A conviction at special or general court-martial.

■A civilian felony conviction.

■Documented incident of sexual assault.

■Documented incident of DUI.

■Documented incident that, with a conviction, could result in a punitive discharge.

■Permanently revoked travel card because of misuse or delinquency.

■More than three weight probationary periods.

In cases of serious criminal offenses that could result in discharge — DUI and sexual assault, for example — a conviction isn’t necessary to deny re-enlistment.

“A conviction is not required if the offense is established by a preponderance of the evidence,” according to the Coast Guard. “Police reports, [Coast Guard Investigative Service] reports of investigation, etc. ... may be used to make the determination that a member committed the offense.”

A preponderance of evidence can mean different things in different cases, said Cmdr. Luis Parrales, chief of advancements and separations at the service’s Enlisted Personnel Management Division,in a March 12 phone interview.

For example, Parrales said, if a Coast Guardsman drives on base and is observed smelling of alcohol, “displaying the actions of someone who’s intoxicated” but there’s no one around to administer a breath test, his commanding officer would use the officer-on-duty’s statement to figure out the discipline.

“Based on his actions, there’s a preponderance of evidence,” he said.

In the case of an alleged sexual assault, Parrales explained that many reports don’t end in convictions because of legal complications. For example, there may be evidence of an assault from a rape kit, but if a victim chooses not to testify against her attacker, the case may not go to court-martial.

That kind of physical proof is sufficient to bar a Coastie from re-enlisting, regardless of a conviction, Parrales said.

Members denied the chance to re-enlist will be notified six months before their terms expire in a regular pre-discharge interview. Coast Guardsmen with less than eight years of active and/or reserve duty who are denied re-enlistment may appeal.

Coasties with more than eight years active and/or reserve duty who are denied re-enlistment may request a re-up board. If your commander recommends you for re-enlistment but you are ineligible for one of the above listed reasons, you may appeal.■

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