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What is an Article 138, and how can it be used by a servicemember?

What do you do if you're a military servicemember who is on the receiving end of harassing behavior being dished out by a commanding officer?

Given the unquestioned hierarchy that exists in the military, any person subjected to a superior's offensive conduct can experience a great amount of uncertainty -- if not outright trepidation -- regarding the fashioning of an appropriate response to the unacceptable treatment being doled out.

When offensive conduct is overt and material, a victim suffering from its effects might want to reasonably consider filing an Article 138 complaint.

That response is explicitly provided for under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and, as noted in an overview of Article 138, lodging a complaint "can be a very powerful remedy for a servicemember."

Filing an Article 138 is a two-step process. Initially, a complainant must file an informal request to his or her offending commanding officer, asking that the unacceptable behavior cease. If that does not avail, a formal complaint must be filed. Ultimately, the matter might end up before a court-martial tribunal. In every instance, an Article 138 complaint is reviewed by the Secretary of the affected military branch.

Obviously, an Article 138 is not a casually considered response to adverse treatment, with the potential for retaliation being a very real possibility.

In some instances, though, Article 138 can be a logical and highly effective response to maltreatment, especially when corroborating evidence is gathered and submitted.

A proven military defense attorney can discuss the applicability of an Article 138 filing in a given case, as well as other potential remedies that might be invoked.

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