By Carl Prine, San Diego Union-Tribune
ay after the top enlisted Marine called on military veterans to help the Corps fight cyber bullying, the American Legion volunteered for duty.
Charles Schmidt, national commander of the organization, on Wednesday urged all former members of the armed services to “stand up and speak out” against harassment.
“The American Legion is very concerned about the allegations of misconduct stemming from investigations into the Marines United Facebook group,” Schmidt said in a statement sent to The San Diego Union-Tribune. “As veterans who have honorably served our nation, we expect that all service members be treated with dignity and respect.
“We commend the … Marine Corps for taking these allegations seriously, and we look forward to learning the results of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation currently underway. We expect the Corps will fully support the victims in this case and hold Marines in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice accountable for their actions. We call upon all in the family of military veterans to stand up and speak out against bullying and harassment wherever it occurs.”
Marine commandant Gen. Robert Neller ordered the ongoing criminal probe into allegations that Marines United members swapped salacious images of female service members, denigrated them with sexually violent language and, after the private Facebook page was closed down at the request of the Pentagon, began proliferating new online clubs to continue the misconduct.
Schmidt’s statement arrived on the 98th anniversary of the American Legion’s founding and a day after the sergeant major of the Marine Corps, Ronald Green, told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Corps would “ask the veteran supporters of our organization out there to take a look at our motto, ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine.’”
Schmidt, a highly decorated Air Force veteran who retired from the service in 1993, was elected leader of the Indianapolis-based American Legion and its 2.2 million members on Sept. 1.
Considered a leader on Capitol Hill when spearheading legislation to help vets, the American Legion joins Vietnam Veterans of America, Amvets, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Service Women’s Action Network and several other nonprofits in urging their members to help end cyber bullying by former members of the armed forces.