Weinstein Threatens US Military with Another Lawsuit

In October of last year, an atheist Army Soldier, SSgt Victoria Gettman, lodged complaints after a mandatory suicide prevention briefing ended with a military chaplain taking the stage and offering a candlelit prayer.

The incident seems fairly benign, and merited little attention at the time.  Now, though, it seems Michael Weinstein is weighing in with (yet another empty) promise to file a lawsuit:

Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, doesn’t consider Gettman’s case closed, and he and his litigation team intend to pursue an “aggressive” federal lawsuit if the Army fails to rectify Gettman’s complaints.

The article contains an important quote from Gettman [emphasis added]: 

[Gettman] now feels that she has exhausted all of her options. “I’m so frustrated, I’m so aggravated,” Gettman said. “I just don’t know what to do.”

“Exhausted all…options” is important code for Weinstein, as it moves him beyond the Motion to Dismiss that has doomed his other public relations — er, “legal” — efforts on behalf of other enlisted troops (troops Weinstein has since discarded).  The judicial branch has a history of granting deference to the military and has historically only taken cases when servicemembers “exhaust” the internal remedies afforded by the military complaint systems.

Importantly, though, while Gettman may “feel” that way, the article seems to tell a different story [emphasis added]:

Gettman filed written complaints both to the Army’s Inspector General and her base’s equal opportunity office, charging…

Gettman filed complaints in two systems — yet the article only covers one, the Equal Opportunity office.  Further:

[Gettman] went to her first-line [EO officer] for information. She said she was then contacted by a different EOA, who told her the case had been ruled unsubstantiated…

The article does not say Gettman has sought any kind of appeal.  According to the only public information available, SSgt Gettman filed two complaints, got one initial response, and thinks she’s done.  She’s wrong.  Despite the fact she’s been in the military for 17 years, it seems she needs to be educated on how the military works.

More to the point, it seems she and Weinstein aren’t interested in her complaint being addressed — they have both indicated they expect a specific resolution.

Gettman has not been satisfied with the response she has received…[Weinstein] was unhappy with the response he received as well.

Thus, it isn’t that the military is mistreating Gettman or her complaint — it’s that the outcome isn’t what they want.

The simple fact remains there is nothing wrong with a chaplain leading a prayer in front of a military formation.  Critics may bristle at a public display of religiosity, but the fact they bristle at a mere display of religiosity says more about them than it does about the US military.

For the time being, the US military has declined to scrub itself of vestiges of the faith of its troops.  The expression of faith and the acceptance of those who espouse faith are still valued — even protected — by the US Constitution and the US military.

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