This is a sticky situation and will basically come down to the Soldier’s integrity/credibility with the chain of command and how flexible the chain of command is in these situations. Keep in mind most Soldiers in this situation will state they did not take part in using drugs. So the chain of command will naturally be skeptical.
First step in my opinion is to speak with an attorney. The Soldier can request to see an attorney at the local JAG office and I would also encourage her to find a local civilian attorney that has retired as a prior JAG officer. If one is not locally available we have recommended Philip D. Cave in the past. His contact information is:
1318 Princess St., Suite 200, Alexandria, VA 22314, Phone: 703-348-7120, Toll Free: 800-401-1583, Fax: 703-997-6076.
Typically you can ask an attorney for a phone consultation the price will usually range from Free to about $150.00
The next step might be be to plead their case to the chain of command and see if they are willing to listen to the evidence prior to going to an Article 15. If they are willing to listen they can explain what happened and then allow the chain of command to check out her story and facts.
If the chain of command is going straight to the Article 15 process the Soldier needs to build her case and attempt to get a letter from a civilian and military doctor to support her claims. Perhaps a letter from a civilian legal attorney that has processed cases like this in the past. It would be best if the attorney can provide case law or other research to support her claim. Letters of character from superiors, peers, clergy, etc attesting to the Soldier’s character and that they have never used drugs before. The Soldier can present the evidence during the Article 15 process and they can also appeal the Article 15 to the next higher commander if she is found guilty.
If the Soldier is not guilty they can refuse the Article 15 and go to a Court Martial. They will most likely be offered a Summary Courts Martial which the Soldier can turn down. If the command is serious they will then seek a Special Courts Martial. This is a decision that the Soldier needs to seek legal guidance on from the post JAG office.
AR 600-85 lays out the steps the chain of command must follow in drug cases. First they must refer her to a substance abuse counselor, initiate an adverse action flag, and determine what action they plan to take. If they decide to process her for an Article 15 and are successful the Soldier will most likely be separated from the service. The commander does have the capability to allow the Soldier to stay in the Army if this is the first offense but given the military draw down this is unlikely.
Now you bring up another issue. When a Soldier is issued a prescription they are required to follow the orders on the bottle unless of course it is causing them harm and then they need to contact the doctor. If your child took old medication it is possible they could charge them under Article 15 for improper use of a prescribed substance. Will they do this? That is a decision the chain of command will have make.
Another option is to see a civilian attorney ask them for to refer you to a solid person who does lie detector test. Take their test. If you come up as telling the truth you can present this as part of your evidence. Most likely the military will ask you to take a lie detector test with the local military examiner. If the test comes back in your favor they may be willing to let you off with a letter of reprimand or other administrative action.
You may also want to contact a medical doctor and ask them to present a medical opinion letter that provides documentation to support the position of the Soldier.
Did you find this information useful? We appreciate your feedback!