Times change, and with it, military regulations. For example, the addition of the Space Force to the armed forces required an overhaul of all the Air Force regulations, which now refer to “members” rather than “airmen,” in order to include the “guardians” of the Space Force. As a result, we had to update the GI Rights Hotline web site links to reflect the changes. Recently our fabulous GI Rights Hotline web designer, John Stephens, overhauled the hotline’s web site, girightshotlne.org. Now we have a site that is much easier to maintain and easier to view on small devices, like cell phones. We’ve seen an uptick in calls since.
Jorge’s (not his real name) was one of them. Over the years we see more and more calls to the GI Rights Hotline coming from non native English speakers. It appears recruiters target immigrants heavily. The army even has a program where people report to an intensive language program before they start boot camp. Jorge was in this program when he contacted us through the web site email on Labor Day weekend. He was having a great deal of distress and didn’t think he could continue. The problem wasn’t his language skills, which by then were proficient. Being in the military was far too stressful for him. We sent him our phone number and later in the day he managed to call. We were able to tell him how he could pursue discharge through medical channels. Later in the week, we had a separate call from a second person at the school in a similar situation who wanted to go over his details. He was experiencing severe anxiety compounded by a family situation that had arisen back home. After our discussions, both callers had a clear understanding of how to present things in a way the military hears. (Hint: it’s not helpful to tell the military how badly you want to get out).
Other cases can be more complicated. Luke (also not his real name) called recently and we spoke for over two hours about his situation. He shared how he is not a violent person at heart and would never want to kill someone. We discussed conscientious objection (CO) and together made a plan to move forward with an application. A few days later, it came to light that he also had a family hardship situation, an alcohol problem, and mental distress. We revisited his earlier plan to file for CO, explored other, quicker options to discharge, and we are helping him to discern his next steps. We are hopeful that his discharge isn’t a question of “if” but “how” and “when.”
As always, we can’t continue to do this work without your support. Thank you for making it possible for us to respond when people like Jorge and Luke reach out for help. Please help us continue to spread information about the GI Rights Hotline. People can call 877-447-4487 or go to girightshotline.org.