Reservist's refusal to compromise rewarded with fine, 1 guilty verdict

Reservist's refusal to compromise rewarded with fine, 1 guilty verdict

Reservist's refusal to compromise rewarded with fine, 1 guilty verdict

An Army reservist has avoided a court-martial for a multitude of allegations from a retaliatory senior command and emerged with her head held high.

On June 20, the court-martial trial for Army Reservist Lt. Col. Joy Thomas began at Fort Bragg (now known as Fort Liberty) in North Carolina. Over the course of a two-week trial, the government called 48 witnesses and submitted almost a hundred documents. Facing 24 charges, Thomas was only found guilty of one: disrespect toward a senior officer. She was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

Younts, R. Davis (PA attorney) Younts

According to her attorney, R. Davis Younts, Thomas upheld her "integrity and morality" in a case that should have ended under "easier circumstances."

Younts, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and former Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer, argues that an Article 15 would have been more than a sufficient, non-judicial punishment for Thomas "rolling her eyes" and "having a tone" with a senior officer֫.

But in his client's defense, the attorney admits Thomas's reaction – taking into account the "vitriolic" actions taken by her command "for doing her job the right way, refusing to compromise" – could be justified under the legal principle of divestiture, where a senior officer forfeits the respect due their position as a result of their own misconduct.

Despite Thomas being charged with disrespecting a senior officer, Younts notes that "the government still asked for a dismissal" – which is akin to a dishonorable discharge. Had that request been granted, Thomas would have lost her benefits despite 18 years of honorable service to the U.S. Army.

Although he considers this "a big win," Younts admits being "deeply troubled" by the way senior leadership treated Thomas throughout the trial.

Thomas, Joy

"They were more concerned about their own careers and reputations than they were about a fellow soldier," he tells AFN. "Her refusal to compromise her own ethics and morality is what the Army needs to see more of today."

The court-martial stemmed from an investigation assigned to Thomas in mid-2018 to examine three suicides at Fort Bragg. All three of her reports were critical of the "command climate" at the Army installation – and she refused to change her findings when asked to "soften the blow to command."

Thomas is now in the process of retiring from the U.S. Army.