By Army Spc Nicole Mitchell. June 20, 2010
I just wanted to give a big thank you for posting an outreach for support in regard to my recent incarceration after being AWOL. I was let out just this past Saturday, June 12th and now I am in the process of separating from the Army at last! I received quite a few letters of support from people across all spans of the US. Those letters truly helped me to stay positive not just about my reasons for being confined, but about being able to remain stable outside of the military. It is good to be reminded that there is such a strong community out there that won’t look at the terms of my discharge like the military claims. (Nicole’s Myspace music page.)
By Attorney James Branum. May 20, 2010
I am writing on behalf of a pro-bono client of mine, SPC Nicole Mitchell.
SPC Mitchell was sentenced to 30 days in jail today in a Summary Court-Martial proceeding at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the offense of AWOL. But this is not your typical AWOL case. It began some time ago. SPC Mitchell was an M.P. in the US Army. She served well until she went on a deployment to Iraq, where she began to have serious issues of conscience. After significant reflection and inner turmoil, she applied for C.O. (conscientious objector) status. The coming months were hard, in that she faced significant harasment for applying, but she prevailed. She was granted 1-A-0 conscientious objector status, which meant that she would continue to serve in the military but in a non-combatant status.
Living as a conscientious objector in the U.S. Army proved to be nearly impossible. SPC Mitchell was not assigned to a new M.O.S. (military occupational specialty), but instead remained as an M.P. She no longer carried a weapon but otherwise had to function as an M.P. So when personal problems arose in her life (something that happens to many soldiers), the emotional strain and stress became too much and she went AWOL.
Upon return to her unit, SPC Mitchell did her best to be a good soldier. In many cases, combat veterans who go AWOL and return voluntarily are not prosecuted, but this did not happen to SPC Mitchell. Her command rejected our request for her to be given a chapter 10 discharge in lieu of court-martial, and instead she was given a summary court-martial.