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Can a Soldier be forced to reveal financial information?

If a Soldier is having financial difficulty can he refuse to provide financial information to his squad leader to help develop a plan of action?

Soldiers can not be forced to provide personal financial information to the command, even if they are facing financial difficulty.

In these situations, the command should refer the Soldier to ACS and the unit Financial NCO for debt counseling. The Soldier does not have to cooperate, even though it is in their best interest.

Convince the Soldier to get help

Approach the Soldier in private. Financial difficulties are sensitive and embarrassing. By assuring the Soldier that you are there to help them and that their private business will not be exposed to those outside the chain, you may be able to convince the Soldier to accept the assistance. He need not reveal his personal financial details to his leaders and/or command, only to the ACS personnel and financial NCO who are trained to assist in these matters.

The Soldier should be counseled in writing on his responsibility to meet his financial obligations and the fact that failure to meet those obligations could be a violation of Article 134, UCMJ, Debt, dishonorably failing to pay.

Follow through

The entire counseling should be geared toward helping the Soldier, however, if the Soldier refuses the help and the command continues to receive negative correspondence from his creditors, then UCMJ and administrative actions have to be considered by the command. However, if a Soldier is having financial difficulties, taking a Soldier’s pay and rank through UCMJ is not going to help them overcome their financial difficulties. A Summarized Article 15, which can only give extra duty and restriction may be more appropriate in a case like this, if the Soldier is otherwise a good Soldier. If a Company Grade or Field Grade is pursued, then a suspended rank reduction and forfeiture may be in order. That suspension, coupled with some extra duty, may get the Soldier’s attention to accept the help.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be
interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily
represent the views of DoD or its Components.

posted on 06/11/2012 under Q&A
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Staff Sergeant(R) Douglas “Eck” Eckstein is a former Paralegal NCO with over eleven years of service in the Army. He has served overseas tours in Korea and Iraq. Eck served on active duty for seven years working in the personnel administration field then, after a break in service, returned to active duty in 2009 when he earned the Military Occupational Specialty, 27D (paralegal). He has worked in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate from Division level down to unit level. He has expertise in all aspects of military law, with extensive emphasis in Administrative Law and Soldiers Rights. “I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components.”

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