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Marine who blasted military leaders over Afghanistan forced to undergo mental health check; expects court-martial

U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller (LinkedIn screenshot)
September 01, 2021

Stuart Scheller, the U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who was relieved of his command after demanding accountability from military leaders over the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, announced that he had been ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation after he arrived at work on Monday. Scheller said he now expects to be investigated for his critical remarks and potentially court-martialed.

In a Monday Facebook post, Scheller said, “When I went into work this morning, I was ordered by my commanding officer to go to the Hospital for a mental health screening. I was evaluated by the mental health specialists and then sent on my way.”

In a video last week, Scheller called out military leaders including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Burger, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. Scheller was subsequently relieved and, in another video posted over the weekend, he announced he would resign his commission, and ended his announcement saying, “Follow me and we will bring the whole fucking system down.”

“My CO is a standup guy, and I understand why he did it,” Scheller said of the mental health check on Monday, “But it brings up a couple of important issues.”

“First, excusing the actions of service members because of ‘PTSD’ does more damage to service members than any trauma in combat. I have been in very traumatic combat situations. But because of that I am STRONGER. Post traumatic growth. If you’re worried about someone… you should reach out and check on them. But never excuse a service member’s actions with a wave of the hand to PTSD. You are crippling them by failing to hold them accountable. And for the people who checked on me after my last video… I’m sorry if I scared you. But know that despite my emotions, my words are always carefully thought out.”

“Second, as stated in previous posts, accountability from senior leaders would alleviate feelings of guilt or shame in service members more than individual counseling. It would save thousands of lives. On May 6th Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said, ‘the most immediate threat [to the DoD] is COVID.’ According to the 2020 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report the number of Veteran suicide deaths documented in 2018 was well over 6K. And the numbers continue to rise. From a statistical perspective, it’s pretty easy to argue that COVID isn’t the biggest threat.”

In his Monday post, Scheller admitted he was scared of the punishment he may face for speaking out, but that he would continue forward despite that fact.

“Everyone is scared that the weight of the system is crashing down on me,” Scheller wrote. “But I know something you don’t… it’s the system that’s going to break. Not me. I am moving forward with my resignation. I, like many of you, am very scared. But courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the ability to overcome it. At the end of the day, if I stand with accountability and integrity, the system can’t beat me.”

In another Facebook post on Wednesday morning, Scheller shared his expectations that he will be investigated for a potential court-martial case.

“To all my followers, I plan for this to be my final post concerning my legal struggles with the Marine Corps,” Scheller wrote. “I will describe in this single post how the next two months will play out. The Marine Corps will assign an investigating officer. Most likely a Colonel. In his investigative capacities, the Colonel will write an unnecessarily long document, with 323 findings of facts. He will ultimately find my posts/statements in violation of 2 to 3 UCMJ articles. Then, on page 38 of the investigation, he will ‘recommend further administrative action.'”

“Meanwhile, [Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Burger] isn’t allowed to comment on the situation or else it will appear as ‘undue command influence,'” Scheller continued. “Such a stupid rule. The biggest issues in the Marine Corps, and our Generals can’t address them for fear of undue command influence. Who let the lawyers decide that? Once the investigating officer finalizes his recommendation, the Marine Corps will decide if they should pursue court martial. Normally they would (and should), but this situation may be different. If it does go to court martial, I will be found guilty, and will probably do some jail time. This will provide me a valuable opportunity to read, write, and contemplate.

Scheller went on say the system of military leadership incentivizes people to compromise their values.

“Young officers don’t join to become yes men. Young aspirational politicians don’t join to compromise their values. IT’S THE SYSTEM,” Scheller wrote. “The system forces us to give small pieces of ourselves so that we can continue playing. We willingly give up these pieces believing it will lead to a place within the system where we eventually ‘influence real change.’ The problem is, that over time, those small pieces add up to significant moral, spiritual, mental, and physical changes. The system changes people, and they don’t even realize it.”