V Corps investigates commander’s online posts
August 11, 2008
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Online comments posted by the commander of the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment’s rear detachment were the subject of a V Corps investigation, according to U.S. Army Europe.
The online postings came to light last month after a complaint by Jay Stewart, whose son, Spc. Benjamin Stewart, was court-martialed in February and jailed for six months for refusing to deploy to Iraq with 2nd Cav last year.
Jay Stewart said the rear detachment commander, Lt. Col. Thomas Rickard, revealed personal medical details about his son in a posting at www.military.com . The comments have since been deleted, he said.
However, an online discussion about the Stewart case remains on the Web site with some contributors suggesting that he may have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.
For example, a contributor identified only as "SLDO" said: "We have thousands of returning service members who suffer PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Although the article did not mention this, there is a distinct possibility that he does suffer from this."
Several other comments posted on the Web site showed little sympathy for Stewart. A posting by someone called "al Mulazem", suggested: "Six months is not enough. He should do just as long as the scheduled deployment — 15 months, hard labor."
In comments posted at two other Web forums — www.woundedtimes.com and www.strykernews.com — Rickard complained that he was misquoted in Stars and Stripes coverage of Stewart’s court-martial.
Rickard did not appear as a witness at the court-martial, which saw Stewart’s sentence reduced by a week because the judge deemed statements made by the rear detachment commander to the defendant were unlawful pre-trial punishment.
USAREUR spokeswoman Hilde Patton said in an e-mail Thursday that V Corps investigated the online activity.
"The findings and recommendations of the investigation will not be released due to the need to protect individual privacy interests," she said.
Online forums are open to any soldier, including commanders, to express personal opinions, Patton said.
"The Army does not routinely monitor blogs regarding postings of specific personnel or groups of personnel. It is not standard practice for the military to target or single out individual military blogs unless a particular … blog has been brought to the attention of the chain of command or other DOD (Department of Defense) officials for gross OPSEC (operational security) violations," she said.
By Army regulation, any blog where a soldier identifies him or herself as such must be cleared through their commander and OPSEC officer, Patton added.