This is a sticky situation and I admire your zeal to do the right thing however I would like to caution you because often times the information you receive from a Soldier can be less than 50% of the truth, or key issues might be left out. If you decide to become involved you need to make sure you understand the unintended consequences of your actions and how they might impact yourself and the Soldier.
If you intervene you could receive UCMJ for failing to obey an order (worst case) or a counseling statement (best possible case). You could also lose your Corporal status if the command decides to do so. This young Soldier must learn to stand up for himself. This means he needs to see the 1SG/CDR on open door policy and explain the problem and also explain the comment his leader made. Leaders usually review the LES’s that means at a minimum the 1SG, PSG, Squad leader should know about the issue. Which by extension means there might be more to the story!
Review of Courses of Actions You Mentioned
This problem is fairly complex so let’s dissect the issues:
- Soldier overpaid: The Soldier knew this was wrong and should have reported the issue to the chain of command and saved the money to repay the debt. The command could potentially charge the Soldier under UCMJ if they wanted to.
- AER loan: While your intentions are good this will not help as it is apparent the Soldier will be in this situation for several months and AER cannot continue to issue loans because the Soldier will still be in debt after the repayment to finance is complete. Most likely AER would deny the loan unless the commander highly recommended the loan’s approval.
- BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER: A trip to finance is probably the best suggestion to think about. The Soldier could most likely be set up on a payment plan thereby allowing the Soldier to receive some of his pay. His sergeant is probably misinformed about what actions finance can take or just lacks empathy for his Soldier.
- WORSE POSSIBLE CASE: Borrowing money from friends. If his sergeant provided this advice this action is seriously flawed and could get the Soldier in more trouble.
Items to Consider
- Soldier seeks their own solution through their chain of command (open door policy) and requests to go to finance and specifically informs the 1SG/CDR that he was threatened with retribution for coming forward.
- You become involved at great risk to your own career after being told not to become involved. Now there are times when Leaders must take such actions to solve unethical, immoral, or unsafe situations. The questions you must ask yourself are:
- Do I know everything about this situation?
- If I do not know everything about this situation and I really willing to go forward to the Soldier’s chain of command?
- Are you willing to take on the potential consequences for your actions (going to the other chain of command)?
- What repercussion would the Soldier face for your coming forward?
- Consider discussing the issue with your 1SG. Maybe your 1SG could whisper in the other 1SG’s ear
- The Soldier can always make an anonymous phone call to the IG explain the situation and ask for help. The chain of command would then call the Soldier in and the Soldier can explain what happened.
The bottom line is the chain of command is there for a reason. They are there to solve problems and no one likes to be blindsided by another person informing them of a problem in their unit. I am sure the 1SG, CDR, or both are reasonable individuals that will help their Soldier get to finance. They cannot allow the Soldier to continue without pay.