Sinking the Ship: Military Fraud

I must interrupt our usual tomfoolery with a serious post.

I hold service members to a higher standard than I do civilians. If you are not in the military, take this as a compliment to our armed forces and not as a slight to you.

For many of you folks in uniform, I know either first or secondhand the training you have undergone; the people, units, or Commands you have worked with; and the sacrifices you have made. We must not dilute honor to fill our ranks and likewise, we must be dedicated to a higher standard in all of our actions.

Each Skipper’s firing this year has been accompanied by frowns. Both my own and those of others around the Keurig coffee machine at work. But there are worse crimes than shooting inert shells at a fishing vessel. Duke Cunningham comes to mind:

Cunningham resigned from the House on November 28, 2005, after pleading guilty to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes and under-reporting his income for 2004. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud andtax evasion. On March 3, 2006, he received a sentence of eight years and four months in prison and an order to pay $1.8 million in restitution.

For years, I stressed to my Sailors that once they put on the uniform, they are reflection of their leadership, the Navy, and the United States. When they act up in public, they degrade all of us. I always made sure my Chief and I were on the same page when we ran our division(s). We did not want to be that division with DUI’d Sailors, public drunkenness, etc.

So when I read this, I felt sad:

A naval officer honored for heroism during the September 11th attack on the Pentagon was found guilty Monday of defrauding the victims’ compensation fund of over $300,000 by exaggerating his injuries.

Retired Cmdr. Charles Coughlin was found guilty after a three-week trial that found he made false claims from a fund set up by Congress after the 9/11 attacks, reports the Associated Press on Monday.

Perhaps there are facts not known, but a finding of guilty certainly damns the Commander with fraud.

Interestingly, several months ago Duke Cunningham has something to say:

In April 2011, Cunningham sent a ten page typewritten document pleading his case to USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, Talking Points Memo, and San Diego CityBeat. He titled the document “The Untold Story of Duke Cunningham.” In the document, Cunningham says that because Judge Larry A. Burns has declared his case closed, he is now offering to speak to the media, which have “inundated” him with inquires since 2004. According to CityBeat, in the statement, Cunningham claims that he was “doped up on sedatives” and made his plea knowing that it was “90 to 95% untrue.

I have always (mostly) heeded this good advice: in the military, you can always be replaced.

8 thoughts on “Sinking the Ship: Military Fraud”

  1. Sorry, but I don’t buy Duke’s story… he got caught, plain and simple… the other guy, if he was convicted, probably a pretty good chain of evidence. Just sayin…

  2. In all of this, Washington DC…the Beltway corrupts…people like to be liked….and to varying degrees, politicians want to be part of the crowd…this has always been possible given the conditions, circumstances and pitfalls within the political arena…human beings can be tempted and with human failings being what they are and as disappointing as it is to discover our public officials are human too….sadly so…all the more reason for term limits…and this is something that is absolutely necessary……I cannot even imagine the shame I would feel were I any of these people…because it affects their families as is very sad that a place can destroy your entire life if you allow it to…sad indeed…

    1. Kristen,

      I agree with you 100%. The politicians (and Senior Military Officers) occasionally get “drunk” from their power and make reckless mistakes they would not have made in the beginning. Many people decide to run for office because they have a belief in something or want to change the world. Even Duke Cunningham, during his service, and the beginning of his political life was likely not who he became. I am sure the temptations they are faced with are quite intoxicating, but it is honor for our country, the love for our family, and the desire to be a good human being that should be enough to keep them straight. That just may be too unrealistic. I am with you fully on term limits!

  3. It doesn’t sound much different than excuses I have endured at NJP. “But I was drunk.” This is used as an excuse for impaired decision making. My response: “You chose to take the first drink stud, and all the consequences that came with it.” Same should go for everybody else.

  4. At the risk of echoing the above I will say this. It is impossible to day to rise to a senior position without political skills. That being said, the beltway has a special way of taking that political savvy and turning it into something grotesque. NavyOne is right, we as former military folks understand the need for integrity especially those under enemy fire. If you don’t trust the guy next to you then you are well and truly screwed. And like NavyOne this pisses me off.

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