Military Murder Podcast Featured the Homicide of Fort Hood Army Spc. Kamisha Block in Iraq; Friendly Fire or Military Cover-Up? (July 13, 2020)

Kamisha Block

Spc. Kamisha Block, U.S. Army

TWITTER: Shonta Block @ShontaBlock
FACEBOOK: Corruption without justice in the military
JUSTICE: Reasons why the Block family want congressional hearings
PETITION: Justice for Kamisha Block commanding officers are not above the law.
SENATORS: Contact your two Senators here (top left has drop down for state)
REPRESENTATIVE: Contact your Representative here (enter zip code)
SASC/HASC MEMBERS: Click here to contact the SASC/HASC members
OTHER CASES: 15 Active Duty Cases That Beg for Prevention Efforts, Military Justice Reform, and the End of the Feres Doctrine and Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present)

“In August 2007, [Fort Hood Army] Specialist Kamisha Block’s family was told that their 20-year-old daughter had died in Iraq as a result of friendly fire – one shot to the chest. The family was floored. They didn’t quite understand what that meant and they wanted answers. But Kamisha would give them a sign. When Kamisha’s mom, Jane, arrived at the funeral home to see her daughter one last time, she noticed a bullet sized hole on Kamisha’s head that had been covered with makeup. Her knees buckled as she thought – what have they done to my baby girl? And the answer she would get would never quench the Block’s family desire for real answers. Kamisha had been killed intentionally by another soldier – Staff Sergeant Paul Brandon Norris. Norris and Kamisha had been dating on and off for a few months and their relationship was against military regulations.” Listen to Episode 38 on the Military Murder Podcast website here.

UPDATE: Army reopens case of 2007 murder-suicide that was originally called ‘friendly fire’ (Stars and Stripes, April 19, 2019) and Army closes investigation into allegations of a coverup in 2007 murder-suicide in Iraq (Stars and Stripes, June 19, 2020)

Kamisha Block Congress

If you would like to help the family get a congressional hearing and investigation, please call the ranking members of the HASC and SASC. #JusticeforKamishaBlock

Goals and Questions from Kamisha Block’s Family:

1. Hearings to discuss service wide responses to dangerous situations, negligence, and preventable deaths

2. There’s a break down in continuity of ‘no contact orders.’ For example, may be enforced in US but not in Iraq, may be enforced in civilian jurisdiction but not on base, etc.

3. Discussion of how a victim of crime copes when they report and are ignored or they don’t report for fear of their lives, loss of career, retaliation.

4. Brandon Norris was in Kamisha’s enlisted chain of command and was able to manipulate the situation to keep Kamisha under his control. When the Chain of Command learned about the forbidden relationship, one of them should have been moved to address the situation.

5. When the homicide-suicide occurred in Iraq, military members were told not to talk to Kamisha Block’s family. Out of fear, they remained silent until they watched an Investigation Discovery episode outlining what happened in Iraq. Most are veterans now and as a result of time and conscience, they now are willing to come forward and testify at hearings.

6. The service members who were in Iraq are now suffering with what we would refer to as moral injury. They knew the truth, they were shocked the Army told Kamisha Block’s family she died by friendly fire. They were fearful of coming forward while still serving in the US Army.

7. Brandon Norris was problematic before being deployed to Iraq. His behavior was erratic, he was drinking, he very likely could have had PTSD due to prior deployments, and he should not have been sent back to Iraq. When the command found out about the forbidden relationship, they issued a no contact order, which is virtually useless when both parties are on the same small base. They sent Brandon Norris to Iraq knowing there was a no contact order. There were a number of red flags in Brandon’s history to warrant getting him evaluated and medically retiring him. Although PTSD isn’t an excuse for violence, the mental health breakdown that comes with that diagnosis will send someone into a downward spiral if not addressed. These are co-occuring issues. Prior problems with domestic violence and PTSD are a deadly combination if no intervention.

8. When they sent Brandon Norris back to Iraq, it made Kamisha even more fearful because she could not escape him, there was nowhere to turn and she was isolated. The expedited transfer policy needs to be expanded to include all victims of crime and those who are fearful of their lives and trapped in dangerous situations. Did Brandon manipulate fellow leaders to see things his way? Why didn’t they protect Kamisha from Brandon’s escalating violence?

9. Why was the no contact order ignored, why was Brandon not removed from Kamisha’s Chain of Command, why was Brandon sent to Iraq with Kamisha, why did the Army tell Kamisha’s family she died by friendly fire, why was the Chain of Command not held responsible for negligence, why did Kamisha feel like she had nowhere to turn, why were service members told to remain silent, why did it take this long to get Kamisha’s case reopened? Why was Kamisha Block’s case closed before any of the questions were answered? Why was it closed because there was “no evidence” to support one allegation?

10. Why was Kamisha’s computer wiped clean before it was returned to the family? Why was it returned to the family if it was considered evidence? Why would anyone wipe the computer clean when it was full of potential evidence that would help us understand the victimology of Kamisha and what was going on in her life at the time? Service members informed family they were asked to destroy all paperwork and personnel records before Army CID arrived to investigate. Why would anyone destroy evidence needed to evaluate and investigate a homicide-suicide? How can we prevent the Chain of Command from destroying evidence in the future?

11. The morning of the homicide-suicide, it is alleged that Brandon Norris was experiencing a mental health breakdown. Why was his gun not taken from him immediately if there were already concerns about his behavior, actions, and deteriorating mental health state. This is another example of how this tragedy could have been prevented had the Army intervened and sent him home. Again, he should have never been sent to Iraq on a deployment with Kamisha. The no contact order is impossible to enforce if both are in the same unit on the same base in Iraq. Kamisha clearly expressed fear of Brandon and wanted the no contact order enforced, they ignored it. Why? Did they need warm bodies in Iraq? Did Norris manipulate them? Did the chain of command not care about Kamisha’s safety?

12. Why was Brandon sent to Iraq instead of discharged? Why was he not held responsible for an illegal relationship with a subordinate? Why was his mental health and problematic behavior ignored? Why would the chain of command issue a no contact order that can’t be enforced when two service members are serving together in the same unit on the same base whether in the US or overseas? Had any of these things been addressed and investigated, it could have saved Kamisha’s life.

13. Was Brandon Norris taking any medication for his mental health issues? If so, what were the prescriptions and what are the side effects. It is alleged that Brandon was taking ambien to help with sleep in a war zone. If this is the case, what is the responsibility of the mental health professionals or other military doctors who prescribed this medication to him? What is the responsibility of the chain of command if they have knowledge of medications? Do the health professionals and chain of command discuss whether it is healthy for a service member to deploy while on said medications? Did the medications or the side effects of the medications contribute to a downward spiral? Did he abruptly stop taking the medications at any point? Why was his health and medication management not considered before he was sent to Iraq? This puts everyone in danger if the person is not taking medications as prescribed and/or not well.

14. Discussion of Feres Doctrine. This archaic, unconstitutional Supreme Court decision is preventing us from holding key players accountable. Lawsuits are a form of checks and balances in the system. How do we hold the military accountable if we can’t utilize one of the three forms of government to force positive change for all service members in the future? Wrongful death lawsuits help us find the answers we may not get in an investigation or if something was not investigated. Lawsuits are used to force change and prevent the same tragedies from happening over and over. This is not happening in the military as evidenced by years of failed reforms. Preventable deaths are a common occurrence and until we can hold them accountable, nothing is going to change. How do we begin the process of getting the Feres Doctrine overturned? If congressional members do not do their jobs and help family members learn the truth, where do we turn? How do we get a case reopened without re-traumatizing ourselves over and over. It took years for Kamisha’s family to get her homicide case reopened and one year before the Army closed it again. The family wants the chain of command held criminally responsible for what they know was a preventable death. What do families do if Congress doesn’t help them? What do families do if the media won’t help tell their story? What do families do when they want an independent investigation because they question the outcome of the Chain of Command and CID’s investigation?

15. Does the Chain of Command involved in the wrongful death of a soldier deserve to continue serving in the military? Why are they not held responsible for manslaughter or negligence? If their actions or inaction lead to the death of someone under their command, shouldn’t they be held responsible for that death as well? Shouldn’t they be held responsible for not taking care of Brandon or Kamisha when they had the chance? Why was Brandon’s escalating violence and problematic behavior ignored at Kamisha’s expense? How do we hold them accountable when they destroy evidence? How do we prevent them from destroying evidence and wiping computers and phones clean before giving them back to the family?

16. There are a number of female soldiers who have died under suspicious circumstances while deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other overseas locations. There were a cluster of deaths around the time Kamisha died as well. If you study each female service member’s story, it fits a pattern, a pattern recognized in Kamisha’s case as well. It reveals the continued repeated pattern of placing people in dangerous situations with potentially dangerous service members. We need an evaluation of all the non combat deaths overseas to find out what the root causes are in an effort to prevent these suspicious deaths and/or suicides from happening in the first place. Did the service member ask for help, report a crime, etc. before they died. We need to know how and why they died to help us create deployment policy that can be enforced in an effort to prevent a wrongful death. They need the expedited transfer policy expanded to capture all the dangerous situations not related to a sexual assault or rape. This can be used to save the service members life if they chain of command ignores them. The danger increases exponentially in a war-time environment one cannot escape.

17. Lastly what about the impact this has on the loved ones left behind? First off, the families should be compensated for the pain and suffering the military causes them when they question the cause of death ruling or they question what happened to their loved one who died under suspicious circumstances. We must address how the military treats families in these situations. Most don’t even know where to start. They don’t know how the military works. They don’t know the Commander is the central investigator and CID does what is asked of them. They don’t know how to FOIA records. They can’t make sense of records they do obtain because most of it is redacted or blacked out. No family should have to FOIA any records related to their loved ones death. This should be an automatic for them. The system is set up to make the family feel hopeless and give up, and that’s exactly what most do because the current system re-traumatizes them when they learn that no one will take responsibility for what happened under their watch or help them find the answers they deserve to have. They should not be expected to simply accept the military’s outcomes. In the civilian world, they have more access to the case and those involved and it is a proven fact a second set of eyes on a case can be the deciding factor in learning the truth. Military families don’t have this option. They should be assigned a victim advocate and or a special victims counsel like those provided to victims of sexual assault and rape. They should be treated with kindness, not ignored, transferred from person to person, and intimidated. The current system is reinforcing the trauma originally experienced from losing their loved one to a preventable death. This is unacceptable and causes irreversible harm. The truth is all that is wanted and it shouldn’t come at the expense of the family member’s health and wellness.

18. Lastly, what is the role of the FBI? Why is it that they can investigate a case in Nigeria involving folks pretending to be soldiers to scam people of money but they can’t investigate any of the suspicious deaths of female soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. If you do the research and look at how many suspicious deaths of service members occurred overseas, you will see the pattern. Every family who loses a loved one to a non combat death overseas deserves answers and a full investigation of the circumstances if they believe they were murdered or pushed to suicide because they had no way out. We lost a lot of female soldiers to non combat death overseas but we also lost a lot of male service members too. Would the expansion of the expedited transfer policy save their life? Or are they still trapped because current policy dictates their commander make that decision. Why can’t we have a bug out plan for the service members who were ignored like Kamisha? Why can’t we provide them with a plan that safely helps them extricate themselves from a dangerous situation if the chain of command chooses to do nothing because they don’t care or don’t understand how violence escalates?

Questions from Retired U.S. Federal Special Agent:

1. Was SSG NORRIS still legally married to his “third” and last wife at the time the relationship between him and SPC BLOCK initiated at Ft. Hood, Texas…or…elsewhere?

2. If SSG NORRIS was still legally married at the time he and SPC BLOCK became sexually involved, the military offense of ADULTERY, as well as other possible military offenses, was applicable…and…that military crime must not have been permitted to occur without subsequent “mutually applicable” ADULTERY military legal action against both SSG NORRIS and SPC BLOCK!

3. At the time of his suicide, was SSG NORRIS divorced or still married to his last wife?

4. According to the U.S. Army, upon his death, who was officially designated as SSG NORRIS’ “immediate legal surviving relative”

5. Was there any company level chain of command knowledge of the SSG NORRIS-SPC BLOCK relationship at Ft. Hood, Texas, prior to their respective departures from that unit to the Basic NCO Course (BNOC) (SSG NORRIS) and Iraq (SPC BLOCK)?

6. Must ID and interview their family, close friends and company level chain of command back at Ft. Hood prior to the SSG NORRIS and SPC BLOCK respective departures, to attempt to determine any possible degree of knowledge about their “pre-departure” existing relationship, which is already somewhat detailed by an unidentified soldier in one of the case’s enclosed CID Sworn Statements.

7. Must clarify, as far back as possible…due to their respective different military ranks…and…probable age difference, where exactly did their relationship commence…at Ft. Hood, Texas…or…elsewhere before that…for example, at the U.S. Army Military Police School (USAMPS), Ft. Leonardwood, Missouri,…or…somewhere in-between…in order to determine for how long their Chains of Command permitted their, most likely UNLAWFUL or at least PROHIBITED, fraternization and personal romantic relationship to exist.

8. When did each of them, SSG NORRIS and SPC BLOCK, first arrive at their MP Company in Ft. Hood, Texas…and…from where?

9. Obtain copies all written U.S. Army Regulations and policies relative to FRATERNIZATION PROHIBITIONS and “SOCIAL DISTANCING” applicable to Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) (Rank of Corporal to Sergeant Major) and Enlisted Personnel (Rank of Private to SPC) applicable to both SSG NORRIS and
SPC BLOCK.

10. Obtain any and all possible evidence of where exactly did both SSG NORRIS and SPC BLOCK received official information concerning #9 above.

11. When American military personnel are discharged from any military duty, they are issued a DD Form 214, with extensive official individual military history pertaining to promotions, awards, tours of duty, type of discharge, etc. Need to determine what form is issued by the U.S. Armed Forces to the official legal survivors of dead military personnel, and obtain a copy of the ones issued to SSG NORRIS and SPC BLOCK to see what information they contain.

12. Obtain copies of their respective Death Certificates…what cause and/or manner of death is listed in each?

13. Who, from the U.S. Armed Forces, first officially notified BLOCK’s family of her death…when…where…how?

14. Exactly what was the BLOCK family initially told concerning the cause and/or manner of death of SPC BLOCK?

15. Was SPC BLOCK “posthumously” awarded a “Purple Heart” medal by the U.S. Army?

16. If SPC BLOCK was indeed awarded a “Purple Heart” medal, a copy of the corresponding “Citation” must be obtained, and its obviously FALSE content noted…as it is a medal officially authorized to be awarded ONLY for: “Being wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces…”

17. Did the official legal survivor of SSG NORRIS receive any government “Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) payment in connection with any claim for his death by suicide?

18. The Chain of Command should have, upon receipt of the initial complaint against SSG NORRIS, made rapid administrative/personnel arrangements for the separation and transfer of SPC BLOCK or SSG NORRIS completely out of the area, to another overseas assignment or back to a base other than Ft. Hood,
Texas, and into a different MP Company, back in the Continental United States (CONUS)…not merely to transfer SPC BLOCK from SSG NORRIS’ squad to another squad…IN THE SAME PLATOON!

*THE FAILURE TO REMOVE SPC BLOCK AND SSG NORRIS FROM EACH OTHER IS THE MOST SERIOUS CHAIN OF COMMAND NEGLIGENT FAILURE WHICH LED TO THE MURDER OF SPC BLOCK! IF NOT FOR “A” THEREFORE NOT “B!”

19. There was also two(2) appearances or perceptions of possible CONFLICT OF INTEREST at the military law enforcement and criminal investigation level which took place at this crime scene:

a. “Off Duty” Military Police personnel, from SSG NORRIS’ and SPC BLOCK’s MP unit and MP platoon became overly involved at the crime scene, acting as if they were the first responding “On-Duty” MPs, which as far as I can tell they were NOT! At this time, I do NOT recall having read anything, in the E-mailed documents I have thus far received, which details anything about when or which “On-Duty” MPs or CID Agents arrived and took over complete and total control of the chaotic crime scene.

*FOR CLARIFICATION PURPOSES: Unless something has changed of which I am not aware, in the U.S. Army, Military Police personnel exist and perform under a “double supervision” system. They have an “OFF-DUTY” unit of assignment…as in their MP company…under the supervision of that company’s Chain of Command. And, as the need arises, they are basically provided to the “Provost Marshal” (Military Chief of Police) to be under his/her OPERATIONAL or “ON-DUTY” control.

b. In one of the Sworn Statements, it is revealed that one of the CID Special Agents at the crime scene was a former Military Police NCO at the same MP Company and possibly assigned to the same platoon as SSG NORRIS and SPC BLOCK, back in Ft. Hood, Texas. In that Sworn Statement, that MP witness also stated he had conversed with that CID Agent while in the vicinity of the SSG NORRIS and SPC BLOCK murder/suicide crime scene…and…that the agent had been one of his MP platoon leaders back at Ft. Hood, Texas…and…he had made a prior courtesy visit to that CID agent at the Camp Liberty CID Office, upon hearing that said NCO was now working there as a CID Agent. Obviously, based on this information, the CID Agent in question applied for the U.S. Army CID Program while he was assigned to that same MP Company back in Ft. Hood, Texas, before the unit was deployed to Iraq. That “SFC” ranked CID Special Agent should have informed his CID supervisor(s) he was formerly an NCO member of the MP Company where the SSG NORRIS and SPC BLOCK murder/suicide crime scene was located…and…should have been recused from any involvement in the case, ESPECIALLY IF HE PREVIOUSLY PERSONALLY KNEW OR SUPERVISED EITHER OR BOTH SSG NORRIS and SPC BLOCK FROM HIS ASSIGNMENT AT THE MP COMPANY BACK AT FT. HOOD!

20. Are MEDICS now organically attached to or assigned to MP units? I sensed some of the individuals involved at the crime scene, subsequent to the murder/suicide, were MP-connected MEDICS.

21. A Staff Sergeant counseling another Staff Sergeant about fraternization or anything else? That is strange to me…and…indicative of Chain of Command NEGLIGENCE in delegating this important preventive measure to an NCO of the same rank as the individual receiving the counseling! In my opinion, any and all counseling involving SSG NORRIS should have been done by a higher ranking NCO or a Commissioned Officer, not by his Platoon Sergeant OF EQUAL RANK. I feel such counseling should have been done by either the First Sergeant, Platoon Leader, Executive Officer or Company Commander.

22. Maybe, just maybe, I am just TOO OLD ARMY, but off-post squad parties at a squad leader’s off-post private home…and…drinking beers and going to off-post clubs with my squad leader?! Unheard of for me in my Army days…never happened! In my time there was strict “social separation” between Enlisted Soldiers, Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and Commissioned Officers! Each rank category had their own SEPARATE on-post clubs…ENLISTED CLUB…NCO CLUB…and…OFFICERS CLUB. I’ve got a feeling that, at least in this particular MP company, there was a bit of too much socializing among the Enlisted soldiers and the NCOs…and this, as it does with Commissioned Officers also, is a pure social seed planting environment which blooms into prohibited FRATERNIZATION situations.

23. I suspect that SSG NORRIS came to a realization that he could get away with his fraternizing relationship with SPC BLOCK because he had gotten away with for so long, everyone was looking the other way and in denial…and…no one was really challenging him to not continue fraternizing with her!

24. My gut also tells me that SSG NORRIS’ anger streak was common knowledge around his MP Company, and most of his immediate supervisors and some in the Chain of Command, preferred NOT to confront him and hold him accountable for anything. THEY ROUTINELY GAVE HIM A PASS! And most soldiers were simply afraid and/or reluctant to report and complain about him.

25. I am in total agreement with all critique and comments previously provided about the CID Crime Lab apparent shortcomings.

*Most importantly…WHAT EXACTLY WAS IN THE CELL PHONES AND LAPTOPS! Must demand the transcripts and photos from each of those devices. What was the final legal disposition of those EVIDENCE ITEMS?!

YouTube Videos:

Spc. Kamisha Block, U.S. Army in Iraq (2007) 

Vidor family of soldier Kamisha Block alleges cover-up after 2007 shooting in Iraq -12 News Now (February 12, 2019)

Families from across the U.S. held a rally outside Fort Hood demanding answers about the deaths of their loved ones who died while serving. -KCEN News (July 11, 2020)

Related Links:
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Ep. 38: Military Cover-up? The Murder of Kamisha Block | Military Murder Podcast
Ep. 38: Military Cover-up? The Murder of Kamisha Block | MM Podcast (Player FM)
Ep. 38: Military Cover-up? The Murder of Kamisha Block | MM Podcast (Stitcher)
Ep. 38: Military Cover-up? The Murder of Kamisha Block | MM Podcast (Apple)
Ep. 38: Military Cover-up? The Murder of Kamisha Block | MM Podcast (Podchaser)
Army Staff Sgt. Paul Norris Fatally Shot Spc. Kamisha Block in Murder-Suicide in Iraq; Family Requests Congressional Hearings & Investigation of Military Leadership (2007)
Forbidden, Dying for Love Premiered ‘Love is a Battlefield’ on Investigation Discovery: Army Spc. Kamisha Block Died in Murder-Suicide in Iraq (March 13, 2018)
Crimelines True Crime Podcast Featured the Military Murder of Army Spc. Kamisha Block in Baghdad, Iraq (October 20, 2019)
Murderific True Crime Podcast Featured the Military Murder of Army Spc. Kamisha Block in Baghdad, Iraq (December 8, 2019)
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present)
15 Active Duty Cases That Beg for Prevention Efforts, Military Justice Reform, and the End of the Feres Doctrine
Forbidden, Dying for Love: Six Active-Duty Military Homicide Cases Featured on Investigation Discovery
Love is a Battlefield | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (S3, E1)
Love is a Battlefield | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (website)
Love is a Battlefield | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Service Members in the U.S. Military (Iraq)
Spc. Kamisha Block, U.S. Army in Iraq (YouTube)
Vidor family of soldier Kamisha Block alleges cover-up after 2007 shooting in Iraq
Dozens gather to protest for answers outside Fort Hood

People Magazine Investigates Premiered ‘The Springfield Three’ on ID: Sherrill Levitt, Stacy McCall & Suzanne Streeter Missing in Missouri (November 4, 2019)

On June 6, 1992, Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall are out celebrating high school graduation. By morning, the teens are missing, along with Suzie’s mother. The case leads police on a nationwide search as they work to solve this baffling mystery. -The Springfield Three, People Magazine Investigates (S4,E1)

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $3.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict. Download the ID Go app or purchase ID True Crime Files & binge away.

Related Links:
ID and People Magazine Combine to Explore America’s Most Gripping True Crimes
Springfield’s 3 Missing Women case featured in People magazine, cable TV show
Springfield’s 3 Missing Women case featured in People magazine, cable TV show 2
Missouri’s ‘3 Missing Women’ case to be featured on Investigation Discovery
Springfield “3 Missing Women” Case Featured On TV Tonight
3 Missouri Women Who Vanished 30 Years Ago Are Still Missing: ‘I’ll Never Give Up,’ Says Mom
Disappeared: Stacy McCall, Suzie Streeter, and Sherrill Levitt ‘The Springfield Three’ Vanished Without a Trace from Levitt’s Missouri Home (June 6, 1992)
The Springfield Three | People Magazine Investigates | Investigation Discovery (S4,E1)
The Springfield Three | People Magazine Investigates | Investigation Discovery (website)
The Springfield Three | People Magazine Investigates | Investigation Discovery (Prime Video)

springfield-three

The Springfield Three, Missing in Missouri

Gillibrand: The Military Justice Improvement Act Would Give Service Members a Justice System That Works (July 1, 2019)

Featured

Brian Lewis MJIA.jpg

You can listen to U.S. Navy veteran Brian Lewis’ March 13, 2013 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel here.

“Nearly 30 years ago, when George H. W. Bush was president and Dick Cheney was the secretary of defense, the Pentagon made a promise to our service members. Dozens of Navy and Marine Corps aviation officers had just been investigated for the infamous Tailhook sexual assault scandal, and America’s military leadership affirmed a “zero tolerance” policy toward sexual assault within their ranks. The military had a sexual assault problem, and pledged to solve it.

It’s painfully clear that the military has now failed at this mission by almost any metric. For years, survivor after survivor has told us the change in the system we needed to make to end this scourge — the same change that a number of our allies around the world have already made: take the adjudication of these crimes outside of the chain of command and allow trained military prosecutors to prosecute them.” Read more opinion at Military Times here.

“The Military Justice Improvement Act would take the prosecution of sexual assault and other serious crimes, such as murder, out of the chain of command. It would keep those crimes in the military justice system, but put the decision to prosecute them into the hands of actual military prosecutors who are trained to deal with complex legal issues.” –Senator Kirsten Gillbrand (Military Times, July 1, 2019)

Gillibrand Leads Bipartisan Coalition to Reform Military Justice System  -Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (May 16, 2013)

Related Links:
Pass the Military Justice Improvement Act @SenGillibrand
S. 1789: Military Justice Improvement Act of 2019
S. 1789: Military Justice Improvement Act of 2019 [Full Text]
Comprehensive Resource Center for the Military Justice Improvement Act
Sens. Cruz, Gillibrand Reintroduce Military Justice Improvement Act
Udall, Heinrich Reintroduce Military Justice Improvement Act To Address Crisis Of Military Sexual Assault
Leahy Joins Gillibrand And Others To Reintroduce Military Justice Improvement Act
Hirono Wants To Change How The Military Prosecutes Sexual Assault
Senator Martha McSally’s Responsibility to Survivors of Military Sexual Assault
McSally defends keeping military commanders involved in sexual assault cases
Gillibrand: “Status Quo” Not Working With Military Sexual Assaults
Veterans for Peace: Sexual Assault on Military Members Press Conference, Seattle, Washington (August 11, 2006)
Jamie Leigh Jones Testified at the House Judiciary Committee Halliburton/KBR Iraq Rape Case Hearing (December 19, 2007)
HOR Oversight Subcommittee on National Security & Foreign Affairs Held a Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military (July 31, 2008)
Former Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA) Introduced the Holley Lynn James Act (April 12, 2011)
Lauterbach Case Prompts Policy Reforms for Victims of Sexual Assault in the Military (December 25, 2011)
Sexual Misconduct Allegations at Lackland AFB | C-SPAN (January 23, 2013)
Panetta Is Lifting Ban On Women In Combat Roles (NPR, January 23, 2013)
Sexual Assault in the Military, Part 1 | C-SPAN (March 13, 2013)
Sexual Assault in the Military, Part 2 | C-SPAN (March 13, 2013)
Gillibrand Leads Bipartisan Coalition to Reform Military Justice System [Full Video] | Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (May 16, 2013)
Gillibrand Builds Bipartisan Support for Change of Military Justice Code (May 16, 2013)
S. 967: Military Justice Improvement Act of 2013 – U.S. Senate Voting Record (March 6, 2014)
The war in Congress over rape in the military, explained (June 8, 2016)
Sexual Assault in the Military | C-SPAN (March 6, 2019)
S. 1789: Military Justice Improvement Act of 2019 Reintroduced by Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York (June 13, 2019)
Senate Armed Services Committee Members & House Armed Services Committee Members (June 21, 2019)
Gillibrand: The Military Justice Improvement Act Would Give Service Members a Justice System That Works (July 1, 2019)

Marine Corps LCpl Riley Schultz Found Dead at Camp Pendleton Entry Control Point; Death Ruled Suicide by Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound But Family Disputes Findings (March 15, 2019)

U.S. Marine Riley Schultz

Lance Corporal Riley Schultz, U.S. Marine Corps

In the early morning hours of March 15, 2019, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Riley Schultz was found dead near a guard shack with a gunshot wound in his head. Nineteen-year-old Lance Corporal Schultz was on guard duty at Camp Pendleton in California when this tragic incident occurred. Riley was discovered by a Marine who was assigned to replace him at this entry control point. The Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) were assigned to investigate Riley’s suspicious death but their investigation appeared to conclude when the medical examiner ruled that Lance Corporal Riley Schultz died by suicide via a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Riley’s family isn’t going to simply accept the outcome of the investigation. His family knows him better than anyone and his brother said Riley was the happiest he had ever been. Riley’s mom told the press that becoming a Marine was his dream and he worked hard and prepared for his enlistment before joining the USMC at the age of 17. Riley’s mom said he loved being a Marine and things were going well in his personal life when he died. Although this investigation appears to be an open and closed case with the Marine Corps, Riley’s family disputes the cause of death and plans to continue to fight for justice for Riley.

In the News:

The Marine from Colorado found dead at a Southern California base earlier this month died by suicide, according to 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh, a Marine Corps spokesperson. Rob Low reports. -FOX31 Denver (March 27, 2019)

The Navy is investigating after a Marine from Colorado was shot to death while on guard duty at Southern California’s Camp Pendleton. -CBS Denver (March 27, 2019)

Lance Cpl. Riley Schultz was discovered dead around 4 a.m. March 15 with a gunshot wound to the head. -Denver7 – The Denver Channel (March 27, 2019)

Related Links:
Lance Cpl. Riley Schultz From Longmont Killed While On Duty At Camp Pendleton
Marine Found Dead at Camp Pendleton Guard Post from Gunshot Wound to Head
Riley Schultz, Marine, shot dead while on guard duty at Camp Pendleton
Marine shot, killed while on guard duty at California base
Marine Shot, Killed While on Guard Duty at California Base
Colorado Marine shot, killed while on guard duty at California base
Marine from Colorado shot, killed while on guard duty at California base
Marine’s shooting death at Camp Pendleton guard post under investigation
Medical Examiner: Marine From Colorado Died By Suicide
19-Year-Old Marine Found Dead at Camp Pendleton Killed Himself: Officials
Death of Marine shot while on guard duty at Camp Pendleton ruled a suicide
Colorado Marine’s family not convinced death was a suicide
Family Convinced Marine’s Death at Camp Pendleton Was Not Suicide
Family of Camp Pendleton Marine disputes suicide ruling despite Marine Corps findings
Marine From Longmont Shot, Killed While on Duty At Camp Pendleton
Marine killed while on guard duty at California base; services to be held in Colorado
Longmont Marine took his own life
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death, and Suicide at Camp Pendleton, California (USMC)
Lance Cpl Riley Schultz, age 19 | Gun Memorial

A Month in Review: In the News on Military Justice for All (May 2018)

May 2018

Missing:
Family pleads for missing soldier battling PTSD to come home
Vets group calls for ‘CAMO Alert’
What really happened to Middlebrook’s Sgt. Gene Shultz?
Missing: Michael VanZandt (Hermosa Beach Police Department – 310-318-0308)
Missing in Hermosa Beach: What happened to Mike VanZandt?
He Left to Go to the Bathroom and Never Came Back: Where is Michael Vanzandt?
Missing: Trevor Nichols (US Army), New York
Soldier receives orders to Fort Riley, goes AWOL
Disappeared: Air Force Veteran Michael Vanzandt Vanishes During a Night Out with Friends in Hermosa Beach, California (March 5, 2016)
Jean-Marc Faubert has been missing since the early morning of Friday, May 25th

Cold Cases:
Georgia Marine’s murder in Belize remains unsolved one year later
No arrests made 3 years after soldier’s murder
New Hampshire unsolved case file: David and Deborah Carreau
Warwick murder case still unsolved, reward offered 5 years later
Cold Case: Army Spc. Darlene Krashoc Sexually Assaulted, Murdered, and Dumped in Parking Lot in Colorado Springs; CID Offers $10,000 Reward (1987)

Fugitives:
Reward Offered for Armed & Dangerous Fugitive: Army Recruiter John Blauvelt Wanted for Allegedly Murdering Estranged Wife in South Carolina (2017)

Petitions:
Presidential Pardon Petition | Free Lt. Clint Lorance
Fire Iron River, Michigan City Manager David Thayer For Firing Police Chief Laura Frizzo!

Continue reading

Top 10 Posts on Military Justice for All in 2017

toptips10

  1. Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside
  2. Navy Veteran Richard Uffelman & Two Children Opened Fire and Killed Neighbors Michael and Florence Phillips in Maine, Richard Sentenced to Life in Prison (1989)
  3. Navy Spouse Susan Russo Hired Drug Addicted Hitmen for $100 to Murder Husband David for the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance (1994)
  4. Navy Wife Dina Kichler Raped & Murdered in Mayport, Florida by John Brewer Shortly After her Husband Deployed for Six Months on USS Forestall (1990)
  5. Joseph Snodgrass, US Air Force, Hired Hitmen to Murder Wife Julie at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines for the $400,000 Life Insurance Payout (1991)
  6. Fort Bliss Army Commander Captain Lynn Reister Murdered by Enlisted Husband Roger and His Brother Rodney for the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance (2001)
  7. A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal
  8. Air Force Retiree Philip Inhofer Murdered by Nevada Escort for Money and 1975 Mercedes Convertible; Michelle Cummiskey Sentenced to 25 Years to Life (1991)
  9. Navy Petty Officer Elise Makdessi Double Crossed & Murdered by Husband Eddie who Came Up with a Better Plan Yielding him $700,000 in Life Insurance (1996)
  10. Air Force SSgt Michael Severance Poisoned with Animal Medications by Veterinarian Wife, Wendi Davidson Plead ‘No Contest’ to First Degree Murder, Sentenced to 25 Years (2005)

The Pendulum Has Swung: Defending Yourself Against False Allegations in Senator Claire McCaskill’s Military Justice System (June 4, 2016)

If you or someone you know has been falsely accused of a crime,
please contact Save Our Heroes.

This animated video describes the obstacles faced by military members who are wrongly or falsely accused of sexual assault. From the recent changes to the UCMJ to the barriers built around the alleged victim, wrongly and falsely accused service members face an uphill battle defending themselves. Court-martial defense lawyer Will M. Helixon, with decades of experience as a sex crimes prosecutor, can team with the military detailed counsel to level the playing field and defend the rights of the wrongly and falsely accused. (www.helixongroup.com)

Learn more:
Newsmax: Rowan Scarborough On False Complaints Of Sexual Abuse In Military (May 14, 2013)
Letter of Support for Save Our Heroes in Our Shared Quest for Military Justice Reform & Constitutional Rights
Senate Armed Services Committee Sexual Assault in the Military Hearings (March 6, 2019)

Tracking Military Sex Offenders Prevents Crime

IMG_3070.JPG

If someone reports a crime to a police department, even if the person is not prosecuted, there is still a record of the complaint. This is not happening in the military because the Commander does not have access to law enforcement databases. So if the person was accused before in the military, the Commander has no way of knowing. And they are not entering data into the system if they are informed of a complaint. We are losing valuable data if the person is not prosecuted for the crime. The military currently prosecutes less then 10% of complaints.

If information was processed like in the civilian world, we quite possibly could prevent a rape or sexual assault. It could help establish a pattern even if one of the cases didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute. If the military had multiple complaints against one person then they would have a better chance at prosecution.

Continue reading

The Stop Act versus MJIA

image1.PNG

Amy Schumer, a comedian, has depicted the unexpected turn your career takes when you become the victim of sexual assault in the military. We are not only harmed by the perpetrator but we are again harmed by the system. And currently we have two proposals in Congress that begin to address the issue. One is the Stop Act sponsored by Representative Jackie Speier. The other is the Military Justice Improvement Act sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Please watch the Amy Schumer video here before reading further.

If you keep up with Congressional efforts to address sexual assault in the military, you will find that the media discusses Senator Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act the most. But what most people do not know is that the MJIA was a compromise to our original efforts. I supported any efforts made by the Senate at the time considering we did not get the support we needed for the Stop Act from either the House of Representatives or military and women organizations. At the time, it was better then nothing and at least Senator Gillibrand addressed an option for our military members who do not report due to fear of retaliation from their Chain of Command. But it is only one element of the big picture.

Continue reading