A Tough, but Necessary Conversation for Military Justice

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Having been on the receiving end of more phone calls than I care to relive from frantic loved ones who have just learned of their child’s or significant other’s court-martial, mere days away, I want to advocate for anyone facing an investigation to have a tough, but necessary conversation for military justice.

When someone comes under investigation, he is already isolated from position, supervisors, and even peers.

Self-isolation for shame, a desire to spare one’s family and close friends from the process, or even fear of rejection can make a person even more at risk for self-harm.

Many lawyers, rightly, caution against speaking to anyone about an investigation or pending case. Even that message can cause a person to become more isolated than she should.

There is a balance between allowing yourself to lean on those you love without sacrificing your case.

You need to have a tough, but necessary conversation.

I encourage the following (adaptable) script:

I want to explain everything of what is going on but for reasons I’ll try to explain I cannot.

(As you know / have learned) I am currently under investigation by the CID / OSI / NCIS / CGIS. The investigation will be open for at least another four to six months. It could be even longer.

I have a good lawyer representing me / I spoke to a good attorney about this process. S/He is telling me not to talk about the investigation to anyone. Even my loved ones and especially my loved ones because even though you don’t have any knowledge about the actual investigation, if I say something to you and the case goes forward to prosecution, the prosecutors could subpoena you and make you testify against me about what I told you. I cannot imagine putting you through that. The lawyer I hired / spoke to is the one who encouraged me to reach out to you.

At some point I also may need you to write a letter or even testify on my behalf so it is important that you don’t know the details of my case. I only want to shield you from feeling like you could somehow hurt me through my case in the future.

I love you so much, and I feel such intense shame and regret about having to tell you that I am in trouble. I have only ever wanted to make you proud of me and / or to protect you. I am so very sorry for the worry this is sure to cause you for me, and for any anger and resentment or embarrassment you may experience have that your dad / mom / spouse / sister / brother / son / daughter is under investigation.

I am committed to being a great dad / mom / spouse / sister / brother / son / daughter to you and I’ll work at it as long as I need to (ensure) (restore) trust between us (should you feel a loss of trust in me).

I cannot say how sorry I am enough that we will be going through this; I also cannot express to you enough how much I love you.

My lawyer has explained that this process is not a sprint, that it is a marathon. I can expect to have good days and bad. Some of that could relate to how my case progresses, and some could just be that I will be processing this all in waves.

I know that I will need to lean on you for support. When I do, I know / hope / pray that you will want to be there for me. It may also be that you will want to know exactly what is going on in my case, but I need you to respect this boundary that we have to maintain so that I can shield you from ever feeling like you’re in a position to hurt me in the case.

You mean the world to me, and I want to be able to count on you for support as I go through this process.

I have had clients who have chosen to not inform their parents or close friends and family about the fact that they are under investigation. It takes its toll. When they speak to their loved ones, they feel as though they are living a lie. And they rob their loved ones of the opportunity to step up and to be a comfort during what may be the hardest time of their lives.

I have had clients who I finally got through to about the importance of telling their families that they are under investigation or even facing a court-martial. I have never had a client’s family tell them that he is disowned or banned from their lives. I have only seen enormous warmth and love; at times there was some temporary disappointment for not reaching out sooner.

There is a way to surround yourself with loving support and to not compromise one’s case. I regret if any of my posts has ever implied or conveyed that leaning on those closest to you was a mistake or would be the demise for your future.

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