Facts eviscerate guilty verdict
Lt. Col. Jay Wilkerson is my son-in-law (“Former IG dismissed for sexual assault,” article, Nov. 4). He is completely innocent of the charge of sexual assault for which he was recently convicted and sentenced to one year in prison and dismissal, losing all benefits, including retirement.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was quoted in The New York Times on April 17 when he ordered more vigorous prosecution of sexual assault cases. Two days after this pronouncement, almost a month after the alleged incident, Jay and my daughter Beth were accused by Air Force Office of Special Investigations agents. Coincidence? Maybe not.
The lead prosecutor came from the Pentagon and is the chief prosecutor in the entire Air Force. The jury consisted of five officers, three of whom were from the medical field, same as the accuser. Who do you think they sympathized with?
Jay is a pilot, but there were no pilots on the jury — none. The guarantee of a trial by a jury of your peers should apply to peers of the defendant, not the accuser, shouldn’t it? Once again, it looks like command influence.
There was no evidence to back up the accuser’s claim, only her word. A brigadier general presented court documents that I believe proved the accuser had previously lied in court. This important evidence was not allowed before the jury. In the Article 32 hearing, evidence indicated that she lied on her job application. Did the judge succumb to command influence? Political correctness is a powerful drug.
The accuser’s story was accepted while the truth as told by a veteran fighter pilot and his lady, both with spotless records of more than 20 years of faithful service to community and country, were completely disregarded. I am personally shocked, hurt and enraged. The entire Air Force should be ashamed of this incredible travesty of justice.
Col. Omer L. Ward (retired)
Problem bigger than Petraeus
It is indeed a sad day when a beloved American general resigns as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. While all men make mistakes, soldiers are held to a higher standard than the rest of society, and leaders are held to an even higher standard than those serving under them.
I once proudly served under Gen. David Petraeus while he was the 101st Airborne Division commander. The Army, however, has become a playground for those who wish to exercise a lack of restraint while encouraging those around them to uphold the highest of morals. Soldiers are drilled to exhibit fortitude in the face of enemy fire, yet they are ostracized for questioning the lack of values around them.
While attempting to aspire to be a professional organization, the Army falls far short. Commanders at all levels are given autonomy, and are only held accountable for their actions if those actions become public knowledge. To be a truly professional organization, individuals need to be accountable for their own actions. And if they fall short of exemplifying those standards necessary to be viewed as professionals, then an appropriate punishment should follow.
While Petraeus’ actions are in keeping with many soldiers’ views of marriage, it is a shame that it had to be transplanted to a truly professional organization. It seems odd how a professional, covert agency can be the scapegoat for inept leaders in Washington, while a valueless organization can be held in such high regard.
Christopher J. Hill
Finite funds to help disabled
In response to the Nov. 3 article “Vet injured in training challenges benefit rule”: Tanya L. Towne should consider that, with finite funds available to veterans, she is competing for Department of Veterans Affairs dollars that otherwise may go to double, triple and quadruple amputees.
She strained her back years ago and now has chronic back pain — that describes about 50 percent of the human race. It sounds like she had a full medical evaluation, was medically boarded (for which I’m sure she received compensation) and she ended up with a 10 percent service-connected disability for life. Because of cases like this that have become so common, I foresee the Department of Defense having no choice but to make cuts in future benefits to people who are truly and genuinely disabled.
Maj. Roger Park