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OR soldier disciplined for Facebook comment about ‘executing’ migrants

Oregon Army National Guard's new Readiness Center in Roseburg. (Staff Sgt. Anita VanderMolen/Oregon Army National Guard)
June 27, 2018

A member of the Oregon Army National Guard received discipline for a social media comment he made about migrants.

Gerod Martin, a military police officer with the Guard, commented last week on a popular Facebook fundraiser for immigrant families affected by separation at the border.

His comment read: “Waste of money … They’re lucky we aren’t executing them,” The Oregonian reported.

Martin, 21, has been with the Oregon National Guard since 2013. He currently holds the rank of Private First Class.

A spokesman for the Oregon Military Department, Maj. Stephen Bomar, said a “large outcry” had resulted from Martin’s comment.

“This is a horrible thing that he posted, we all know that,” he said. “It’s unacceptable, horrific and doesn’t reflect the values of our organization as a whole.”

Bomar said that officials began looking into the situation to decide if Martin’s account was hacked. However, Martin admitted to making the remark on his own.

He did not elaborate on the specifics of Martin’s discipline, only confirming that Martin would be held accountable.

Martin’s social media comments were a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to Bomar.

“If you have a social media account that is affiliated with the military in any way shape or form, have a patch that says Army or Air Force, then you fall under the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Bomar told ABC affiliate KATU.

“This was a clear violation in uniform to say anything like that, or anything political, because we enforce the policies of our politicians,” Bomar added.

The Oregon National Guard maintains strict rules about service member conduct on social media. They require yearly social media conduct training.

“One of our policies is to conduct yourself as though you’re a service member 24/7. Even if you are working a civilian job, you are still part of our team and need to remember to have those values wherever you go,” Bomar said.

He added that Martin’s post may be included in the next social media conduct training session.

“You can’t endorse any sort of political action while in uniform,” Bomar added. “You always have to think before you post. Sometimes you can get caught up in the moment, but it’s not an excuse.”

Martin has since closed or hidden his Facebook account. However, screenshots of his comment and photos of him in uniform are still actively shared on social media.

The fundraiser, named “Reunite an immigrant parent with their child,” has raised more than $20 million by more than 530,000 donors in almost two weeks. The funds are designated for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.