- - Monday, October 20, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In May 2013, Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was given a direct commission as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves (USNR). Hunter Biden was 43 at the time and needed two waivers to do this — one because of his age and another because of a prior illegal-drug-related incident. Within one month of becoming an officer, he tested positive for cocaine and was discharged in February 2014. This only came to light in the past month (“Hunter Biden discharged from Navy Reserve for positive cocaine test,” Web, Oct. 16). So much for transparency in government.

Someone needs to investigate how Hunter Biden and others with political connections have been able to join the U.S. Navy and other branches of service in this way. Then someone ought to release the results to the media, seeing as how the Obama administration campaign ran on a promise of transparency. This has been going on for decades. Former Sen. Gary Hart, Colorado Democrat, received a direct commission into the USNR Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAGC) while in Congress and was said not to have spent any time on active duty or drilling. The senior officers of the military permit this sort of thing to happen in order to curry favor with politicians to help their military and post-military careers.

The direct officer commission process into the drilling reserves was intended only for those who are highly qualified in a field the military is desperately in need of, which usually means doctors and nurses. There is no shortage of public affairs or JAGC officers wanting to be in the drilling reserves, and Hunter Biden did not have the experience to warrant such an appointment. Most public affairs and JAGC officers given direct commissions are required to serve on active duty for several years as part of their appointment. They can then go into the drilling reserves, but only with several years of military experience under their belts. In Hunter Biden’s case, this is nepotism at its finest.

Congress needs to pass legislation to bar White House officials, political appointees and members of Congress from joining the military, with a similar bar for members of those individuals’ immediate families. If these people are already in the military, they should have to be placed on inactive status so long as they or their family member hold office.

WAYNE L. JOHNSON

Judge Advocate General’s Corps, U.S. Navy (retired)

Alexandria

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