Former LTC Stu Scheller did exactly what every enlisted servicemember dreams of at least once in their enlistment; telling his superiors that they messed up and need to be held accountable for it. While his decision is not only controversial, it is also against the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). Despite this, Scheller felt that people above him were not doing enough to get an investigation going, so he pushed it himself.
Scheller says it all in explicit detail. “To recap my series of defeats after demanding accountability; I was relieved of command, slandered as homicidal/suicidal by the USMC’s public affairs team, ordered to get a mental health evaluation, lied about in the investigation by my “friends”, denied my legal right to prefer charges against another service member beholden to the UCMJ, imprisoned under the false pretense of ‘flight risk’, left without basic items in prison for five days, offered a legal deal while held illegally in jail (you can’t be placed in pre-trial for a special court martial), slandered again when my medical records and investigation were released to the media, fined 5K dollars, called a narcissist in my letter of reprimand, kept under a gag order for over four months, denied the ability to request mast twice, given the lowest characterization (General under Honorable Conditions) allowed by the plea deal, and lost my retirement.”
This should be infuriating to anyone who ever signed that bank check and wore the uniform. The USMC did this man wrong. He is trying to hold leadership to the same standard he held his Marines to. This is not a new concept nor should it be frowned upon. For centuries, leaders in the military have proclaimed that higher rank did not mean you were above the law, or unable to be tried.
On Christmas Day, Scheller addressed that head-on. “If we only had senior military officers with the courage to publicly address our failures, or assume any kind of accountability for that matter, I might not feel morally obligated to speak on behalf of the military service. You remember the My Lai moral courage case study? Fun fact rarely focused on in that case study… the only officers held accountable were at the Company level. Not a single General was fired over the incident. Sound familiar?”
This is something seen all too often. The senior leadership escapes unscathed (many times even receiving awards) while the lower ranks are left to rot as a result. This is true on both the enlisted and the officer sides of the house. Using the USMC ranks, this type of ‘untouchable’ levels begins right around Gunnery Sergeant (aka Gunny), and Lieutenant Colonel. It’s ironic that Scheller got to LTC but got caught up in this by being the one to ask the hard questions when nobody else would.
As time goes on, Scheller’s fight is a long way from over. He’ll certainly be appealing his type of discharge and his loss of retirement. After 17 years serving this country as a US Marine, he certainly has earned it, and looking at various statements from those who served under his command, he earned every dime of that retirement.
For now, Scheller will continue on his quest to speak out against the injustices the government, military, and Marine Corps specifically have going on. He wants to see leadership held to the standard, and that’s something this country has been missing for some time now. Perhaps he would still be serving if President Trump was in office. Then again, if he was still there, maybe Scheller wouldn’t have had anything to be questioning in this manner?