Many people see things that happen at USAFA (AFA) everyday and simply can not do anything about it. Threat of your career being hampered, your family suffering from your actions and many others things are/can be used against you. The few that stand on their own are destroyed by those in power. We have been called "insurgents" before. Imagine that? How would anyone feel that wears the uniform, protects the American way of life, raises a good family and is called a insurgent or terrorist simply because they think or believe differently then those in charge? I once compared the SS units from WWII Germany to some of the leaders I have dealt with and sadly, there were undeniable similarities in the thoughts and attitudes of these people. No, they are not Nazis (I hope not anyways) but that does not mean that the way people are treated by them is not as horrible in some ways. How would you feel, if you took a stand and were told that your career and life were going to be difficult if you continued forward with your accusations? It makes 99% of people run away and hide. I have watched young airman and older members alike, be brought into rooms with 2, 3 or 4 leaders and ganged up on. They call them "witnesses" but all they do is pressure you into thinking or acting differently and if you don't, they assign you paperwork in such mass quantities that you can never recover from it. No promotions, No new assignments and more than likely... separation. When I questioned the methods, I was clearly labeled as the outsider and told to ignore what I saw because its standard operating procedure. Now, take that environment and move it into a crowd of cadets who are being groomed to run the military. Think it has an impact? Of course it does. The effects of this "USAFA is the best place in the universe" has been going on long enough. Its even something retirees utilize. I watched a young mother, maybe 28 years old park in a handicapped spot at the commissary. An older woman, late 50's probably, walked over and told this young girl to move her car because she did not have a real handicap. A verbal fight ensued. When I got over to intervene the old woman literally told her "My husband was a pilot and he graduated from this Academy. You better move your car or I will get you permanently banned from this base!". I decided I had enough and made it clear that the young woman had a handicap tag and has every right to park in a handicap spot and if the old woman wanted a spot, she should arrive earlier in the day. Did this deter her? NO. This woman continued to spout some very ugly things at both of us and told the woman that she was nothing more than an enlisted wife and she did not deserve a parking spot so close to the commissary. The argument ended when the younger woman gave up and simply left because she was in tears over the entire event. That day will stay in my mind forever because the amount of entitlement that comes from some of the people at USAFA seems to be only rivaled by Occupy Wall Street Members.
There may be no good answer. But I think USAFA should still be a special duty assignment only... no first term airman of any kind. Have a rigorous selection process, much harder than in the past and hire more civilians to handle the work load. I know it sounds harsh but if you filter the tainted water long enough, pure water can make it through without being tainted. Maybe if that was in place, the cadet (and others) would not be in the situations impacting the base.
I apologize for my delay in writing a response. I had one drafted and submitted but it was only on the site for a few minutes before it disappeared. I have contacted the csindy staff to see if it was flagged or removed. Rest assured I will do my best to find out what happened to my post and correct it. Now, onto your questions…
My religious intolerance issues have been ongoing for years. Starting with basic comments about how I needed to attend church (the RIGHT church mind you) and other items… then ranging to threats of me and my family. Yes… threats. Of course, when you drag someone’s family into an issue of this nature, it will always cloud someone’s judgment in some regard. However, I was optimistic and dismissed everything to ensure I was being a good leader and not rocking the boat. My family paid the price. I almost lost the few things that really make life worth living. My loving family and friends. I come from a poor state, poor family and had a rough childhood. I made a promise to be a better father and husband than had ever been shown to me growing up. However, even when you are the exact type of airman/leader the USAF publishes/expects you to be, there are always people who are not happy with how you are. Mine came from my “stubborn nature” in that I refused to be pushed into religion in any form. Col Bruno is nothing more than a puppet for USAFA, just like the people that came before him. My faith has always taught me that no one who has to constantly tell people that they are “a man/woman of God” or any man/woman who allows other people or politics to rule their way of spreading the wealth of religion should consider themselves legitimate leaders of faith. Col Bruno may have good intentions but his position and his actions are always subject to the whims of others. It was his church services that had told us to “attend the services offered on base to alleviate the issues we were having”. My wife went to one meeting and left in tears because she was ganged up on by other members because she did not agree with the things they were saying. She is not a radical religious member or anything. She went to school for religious studies, knows almost every form of religion and text in existence today and simply had a different point of view. That’s the problem with society in today’s business based economy. They do what they are told to avoid ruffling feathers because someone might be upset. But that’s why we need the MRFF. The MRFF and other entities simply try to ensure everyone can practice their religion (or no religion) without persecution of any form. The only way they can keep people from being targeted is to keep pressure on the military and continuing to hold people accountable. They have a purpose. In the military I am sure you can see how younger members (cadets or active duty) are very impressionable and can be forced to think or act a certain way very easily. We are taught to respect/fear rank and if it demands we do something very few choose to stand up and say no. As for the cadet being counseled, it is not very clear on what counseling is. This cadet has been through meetings, briefings, power points and emails expressing what actions are acceptable and what is not acceptable. They knew better. To say they did not is simply trying to group them all into being children who know no better and need to be coddled. They are members of the US military and future leaders who need to know that rules are not flexible. There are certain UCMJ actions that COULD apply, if needed. Failure to obey order or regulation, Solicitation etc etc. However, none of those need apply to the extent of discharge or removal from the Academy. This is where the “interpretation/rule bending” comes into play.
USAFA has a tendency to say that they “are not the real Air Force”. The rules/regulations that govern how we conduct ourselves and function seem to never apply to USAFA. Commanders across the board will look at these AFI/Regs and literally re-write them just for this base, because they don’t like them the way they are. They call it interpretation. Every rule, every reg, every AFI is apparently open to interpretation if you have the proper rank. This lets them do whatever they want without being held accountable unless it is something so grossly negligent that they simply can’t escape it. While this may seem good in some cases because every unit is different, overall it diminished the abilities to function when needed in settings that don’t allow this type of leadership. After all, if the rules are written a certain way and allowed to be ignored or changed, then what’s the point in having any at all? Look at Iraq and how the Air Force had a 96.4% mobility rate. That means at any given time, the Air Force in Iraq was 96.4% ready to fly. What’s the rate here in the USA? Last time I head, it was roughly 60% on a good day. Think about those numbers for a second. When the only job you have is to do your job, without any extra stuff being thrown at you, our military can function amazingly well. It just needs less politics and people who only think about how to get themselves promoted.
As for your statement about the Constitution… how does that apply? I don’t think anyone mentioned it and I know I never mentioned the cadet being kicked out or anything like that. If you truly believe in the Constitution, then you either misunderstand it or think that interpreting it (like so many lawyers and politicians are doing) is ok as well? The Constitution has lost so much of its meaning and purpose because it keeps being tweaked or amended. While the world is changing, so are our needs as a society but you cannot make everyone happy and if you try, you lose the value and purpose we all need as a country. No one is denying the cadets rights but trying to ensure the cadet does not violate anyone else’s rights, either on purpose or by accident. I appreciate your sincerity about my leaders who should be held accountable. I do not think that anyone will ever be held accountable. Don’t get me wrong, USAFA is not a place where only bad people reside. It has great leaders and bad leaders alike. Ender, do you work on base with Col Bruno? Are you Col Bruno? This may seem like odd questions but for a citizen soldier you seem to have a very dedicated point of view in support of a place that you claim to have no affiliation or contact with. More so when bringing up Col Bruno and his services. I am not saying he does not deserve respect or appreciation so please doesn’t take it that way. It just seems odd to me. Thanks for keeping the posts civil.
I have been reading these comments back and forth. I am in the military, I am at USAFA, I DO work with cadets and I am a client of the MRFF. First and foremost, if anyone thinks the MRFF is lying or somehow making these things happen to better the political clout hitting the USAFA, then they need to see a shrink. I took years of religious intolerance and abuse before contacting the MRFF. IG/MOE/Chaplains/Commanders were all USELESS. I ended up being labeled a dirt bag and a liar during all of this and then told they were working to kick me out because I could not "shut up and color". Did I mention I am NOT a hardcore Christian? I refused to be forced to attend religious services, fought back when I was told to find "Jesus with my chain of command to better my career" and in the end, it was not until the MRFF helped me that I saw any change at all. Sadly, its too late for me in that enough damage was done to me/my career that my time is coming to an end soon. So, let me speak from experience on this ok?
The issue with the cadet sending the email, is that they should be punished. Not spoken too, or counseled but punished. No.. not to end their career or crush their academic dreams... but to make an example and show the zero tolerance policy on pushing religion on others. Because that's exactly what it is. The cadet may not have meant it, but, if the USAFA was doing their job and making it clear what is accepted/expected than this would not have happened.
Secondly, the email from General Schwartz took over 13 business days to be sent to my specific department by the commander of our area. That means, NO ONE got it from my commander when it had been sent down and told to be disseminated immediately. General Schwartz, made it clear to be sent to EVERYONE... immediately. That is an ORDER from THE General. I got a copy forwarded to me from a friend from another base the same day it was sent down by the General. Another from Japan the next day. So why did USAFA refuse to send it out even when ordered to do so? No one has a clear answer because NO ONE will talk about it. Actually refused to be questioned about it. Some were caught lying about it and then lying about what they said... to hide the fact they lied. When you allow people in a chain of command, to think that being stationed at a specific base makes you "god like".. you lose any ability to ensure professionalism and accountability. This is a problem at USAFA. Anyone here will tell you "this is not the real Air Force". No AFI or regulations apply here because there is always "interpretation problems" that allow someone to do whatever they want and get away with it. Worse off, leaders here will read a regulation or AFI and decide that they "dont like it" and re-write it specific for USAFA and negate the very reason for having AFI/regulations. Sound like a fair and balanced system? Does it sound like counseling someone really does anything? Do you expect a military academy to actually teach military structure or how to negate the regulations? Think about it for a second. The mission at USAFA may be unique but that does not allows it to function anyway it sees fit.
As for if someone thinks I am disgruntled, the fact is I am in some ways. But it is not for a lack of trying. I have worked hard my entire life, am in a executive program in college (graduate level), earned dozens of awards BEFORE I began fighting back against specific people who were abusing their power. I focus my time to care for my family and balance my work like any airman should do. Do I feel cheated? Yes. Did I exhaust every avenue to find a solution? yes. Did anything happen? NO. Did the MRFF help? YES. Did I blow a whistle? YES. But I couldn't not have done it without the MRFF. The MRFF has never been trying to destroy religion in the military but simply keeping the religious playing field EVEN so everyone can practice faith in their own way without being persecuted. And yes, they will fight tooth and nail to hold someone accountable who abuses other people based on religion.
As for the comment on a "one mistake air force", this is a true statement. However, it will never apply to cadets unless the error they make is so bad it cannot be handled/washed under the rug and hidden. The cadets are not bad people and are the future leaders of our military. They need proper guidance without political power plays, need to be taught how the "real air force" works without bias and learn that they need to be punished when making a mistake but can learn from it and never do it again. It is also important to remember that even though we all have rights as humans and as Americans... being in the military puts you on track with the UCMJ. The UCMJ is a completely different world and while freedom of speech is a great thing... the military does NOT have the luxury to say or do whatever we want on that premise because you can put the military at risk or yourself. After all, if we were all allowed to do whatever/whenever we want.. no one would follow orders because they would not have too. Why do we do it? Because we get punished if we don’t and we have to remind ourselves that we committed to serve the military.
OH, and BTW, I have been interviewed as an MRFF client, in various ways. Considering what has happened to some of the clients who tried to fight on their own... very few actually step into the lime light because they will literally be ridiculed or ruined within days. No, it’s not a conspiracy. It’s a fact. They have to think about their families or career before they do anything. How would you react?
Now, I am all for legitimate conversations so feel free to post and we can share information or points of views as much as you would like. I do not attack anyone personally unless they begin it first.
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