July 21, 2006

Officer who sued to resign is honorably discharged

Michelle Tan
Staff writer

The Army Reserve officer who sued the service so that he could resign his commission has been honorably discharged.

Capt. Brad Schwan, who accused the Army of being in breach of contract and forcing him into "involuntary servitude," had filed his lawsuit in federal court in California. He was waiting for a hearing before the federal judge to argue against a motion filed by the government to have his case dismissed.

Maj. Hillary Luton, an Army Reserve spokeswoman, confirmed on Friday that Schwan’s resignation request had been approved.

Schwan, a military intelligence officer and 1997 West Point graduate, completed his eight-year service obligation in

May 2005. He filed the lawsuit after the Army twice denied his application to resign. Schwan’s initial request to resign was rejected based on a policy first detailed in a December 2004 memo from Maj. Gen. James R. Helmly, the former Army Reserve chief.

The policy states unqualified resignations submitted by officers who have completed their service obligations will be approved only if they meet one or more of the following criteria:

• The officer is assigned to a specialty that is at or above 80 percent personnel strength.

• The officer previously completed a deployment in support of operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom or Noble Eagle.

• The officer provides convincing evidence of compelling personal reasons for separation. Documentation provided in such cases must include statements of counseling from Army medical or chaplain personnel.

The criteria don't apply to officers under stop-loss orders, according to the policy, which also says those officers can submit their requests after the stop-loss period has expired. Soldiers held under stop-loss are kept in service for prescribed periods beyond their contracted obligations.

Schwan’s request to resign was rejected because "the personnel strength level for this officer’s area of concentration and grade is below the readiness level needed to support ongoing contingency operations. In addition, Schwan has not provided compelling personal cogent reasons to justify approval," according to a copy of the letter rejecting his original request.

Helmly completed his term as Army Reserve chief in May. He was succeeded by Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz.

The resignation policy is believed to be under review, Luton said. No more information was available Friday afternoon.