This is a question for my RLO counterparts (I am a WO1). I have a Soldier that admittedly made a one time mistake with his finances that caused him to request assistance from AER. All has been taken care of at this point, and our CO has required that my Soldier attend some financial management classes, with which I completely agree.
However, he has made a requirement of my Soldier to provide him with his personal bank statements twice a month for an undetermined period of time. I have been trying to locate information on whether or not this is a legal order or a violation of my Soldier's personal information. Any clarification would be great, even better is where I might find this in black and white (ie., regulation) Thanks to one and all in advance.
Background: Basically, he failed to calculate the tax for his airfare from Korea to his home in the states. He failed to look for his purchase verification and at the last minute, realized that his tickets had not been purchased. Much of his family was flying in for a reunion with him from around the world.
If it wasn't for his family already having properly purchased their tickets, I would have let him learn from his mistake the hard way. However, I couldn't do that to him in this situation. ...call me soft.
Someone asked this question on a different forum but no one could post any Reg or policy. Best thing is to get with legal office and ask the question.
Found the following:
This is one of the issues that I thought would be an easy answer and turns out to be multifaceted in it’s complexity.
After researching this and conferring with some of my fellow legal professionals, this issue is not directly referenced in any Army regulations that I am aware of. It falls under two main issues: 1) The Soldier’s constitutional right to privacy; and 2) Lawfulness of Orders. I will address each one issues.
1. Every Soldier has a constitutional right to privacy. This includes personal financial data. A government agency cannot arbitrarily look at the financial records of an individual without just cause and most times a court order.
2. Lawfulness of the order to provide your financial data. Your command has to have a reason to ask for the information. The Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), Paragraph 14c(2)(a)(iv), “Relationship to Military Duty” states in part, “The order must relate to military duty, which includes all activities reasonably necessary to accomplish a military mission, or safeguard or promote the morale, discipline,and usefulness of members of a command and directly connected with the maintenance of good order in the service. The order may not, without such a valid military purpose, interfere with private rights or personal affairs…” Paragraph 14c(2)(a)(v), “Relationship to statutory or constitutional rights” states, “The order must not conflict with the statutory or constitutional rights of the person receiving the order.”
So what does this mean to you the Soldier?
Your command should have a legitimate reason to order a Soldier’s to release their personal finance information. This can be a complaint from a lender to the unit that a Soldier is not paying their bill, a complaint of failure to support family members (AR 608-99) or some other legitimate issue. Failure to pay a financial obligation is punishable under the UCMJ, Article 134, Debt, dishonorably failing to pay.
Failing to pay your debt could result in civilian court proceedings against you that could take you away from your military duties. This alone could meet the “Relationship to Military Duty” requirement. However, the lawfulness of an order is a question of law to be determined by a military judge. (MCM, para 14c(2)(a)(ii))
If the command does have a legitimate reason to ask for your financial information and you do not comply, then the command will make their determination of the issue based on the what ever information/evidence they have. It normally works in the Soldier’s favor to cooperate, even if they are behind on payments. There are agencies that can assist the Soldier in getting their financial house in order.
If the command does not have a legitimate reason, they are probably just trying to make sure the Soldier is on the right track financially. Most units have a trained Financial NCO/Officer that assists Soldiers with financial issues, AER, budgeting, etc. There are also agencies within Army Community Service (ACS) that can help the Soldier. I strongly recommend my Soldiers take advantage of these agencies, even if they appear not to have financial issues. It can only help, but the decision is still up to the Soldier.
This is not a clear cut issue. If you fail to obey an order, you run the risk of being punished under the UCMJ. If it’s your NCO and not your commander/1SG asking for the information, try a compromise that you would be willing to speak with ACS and/or the unit Financial NCO/Officer who is trained in finances.
This is not legal advice on how to respond to a request for your financial information. If you still have questions, speak with an attorney at your local Legal Assistance Office.
“I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components.”
I think you question could also pertain to other Warrants and enlisted because I have experienced this issue as a CW2 OIC and when I was a E6 Squad Leader.
When I was enlisted, I had a female Soldier in my squad that was getting calls from her creditors and then those calls were getting to the Commander. After counseling her on the issue and referring her to financial management class, I was later told by my platoon sergeant that we pull her credit report to see how much debt she had and her delinquencies.
She willingly had no issue with that as we were there to help her and get her on the right track. I even gave her an immediate loan because she rented a vehicle from Enterprise on-post and instead of turning it back in, she left it in a parking area. I helped in paying the rental fee and she cut me a post-dated check and I got my money immediately. A no-interest payday loan lol a la like the movie Heartbreak Ridge.
As an officer, I had an NCO that was mismanaging his money and rather pay for more toys than his personal bills. His spouse was even making the complaint but we had a high-speed NCOIC in the section that handled that matter at the level with the 1SG.
So my advice is to also engage your senior NCO leadership involved; even though the Commander is requesting this. Your senior NCO could deal with the 1SG on this matter about your Soldier.
We know somethings are personal but at the same token, we are in a profession that gets involved in our personal matters than any other job/career in the world, so look at it from both sides before you think this is something you should try to fight than simply work with your Commander on for the betterment of your Soldier. But I do not really understand why a bank statement for an undetermined amount of time. Perhaps, two months will suffice or in the area where he may be having a financial issue (e.g. credit card statement). But legal is an excellent suggestion and also bringing up the conversation to an EO rep (this issue probably will not fall under an EO violation) but the rep should have some knowledge of what constitutes the realm of following a lawful order from the Soldier's and Commander's perspective.
BTW, I am currently in Area IV. If you wouldn't mind PMing me, we can probably discuss this over the phone or e-mail. And never be afraid to engage a Senior Warrant for advice and mentor-ship. Approaching any CW4 (or even CW3); regardless of MOS is always a good COA. WE take care of our own.
Good luck.This message has been edited. Last edited by: TheWiseChief,