Security Clearance Processing

Active duty military members, civilian Defense Department employees, and civilian employees of Defense Department contractors are very likely to need a security clearance for access to sensitive information to perform their work. Typically, the start of the process to obtain that clearance is the completion of a questionnaire, or the Electronic Questionnaire for Investigations Processing (or e-QIP).  This lengthy form contains numerous questions delving into the Applicant’s life and background which may generate potential issues during a background investigation that may result in a decision to deny the Applicant’s request for a clearance. A clearance may only be granted when “clearly consistent with the interests of national security” and any doubts are resolved in favor of national security.

When preparing to complete the form, the Applicant must acknowledge that failure to provide truthful information may be prosecuted as a violation of Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1001; and that a violation could result in imprisonment and/or a fine.  As a practical matter, if the Applicant submits untruthful answers, their likelihood of being granted a clearance decreases significantly.

Prior to completing and then submitting the form, the Applicant should review the National Adjudicative Guidelines (Guidelines). Even if the Applicant recognizes some potential issues with the Guidelines and their background, the Applicant should provide truthful information as a favorable outcome is still very possible in many cases.  The Guidelines address conditions that may mitigate concerns and taking early efforts to address these potential concerns may lead to a favorable result. Seeking the advice of counsel early in the process may make all the difference.

The most frequent issue that results in hurdles in the clearance granting process is financial considerations:

Financial Considerations

Most Applicants have some debt, even delinquencies. Failing to live within one’s means, satisfy one’s debts, and meeting one’s financial obligations may indicate poor self control, a lack of judgment, or an unwillingness to abide by rules and regulations. Financial problems may also indicate security concerns such as excessive gambling, mental health conditions, and substance abuse (including alcohol), thus making the Applicant susceptible to coercion or blackmail. 

But there are “mitigating” reasons for debt as well. These include: the behavior happened so long ago, was so infrequent, or occurred under such circumstances that it is unlikely to recur and does not cast doubt on the Applicant’s current reliability, trustworthiness, or good judgment; the conditions that resulted in the financial problem were largely beyond the Applicant’s control (e.g., loss of employment, a business downturn, unexpected medical emergency, etc.); the Applicant has received or is receiving financial counseling for the problem from a legitimate and credible source and there are clear indications that the problem is being resolved or is under control; the Applicant initiated and is adhering to a good-faith effort to repay overdue creditors or otherwise resolve debts; the individual has a reasonable basis to dispute the legitimacy of the past-due debt which is the cause of the problem and provides documented proof to substantiate the basis of the dispute or provides evidence of actions to resolve the issue; to mention a few.  

For these reasons, an Applicant may desire to seek advice from counsel about whether they may have problems getting a favorable determination on their application. Frequently, getting out ahead of the process may help the Applicant to obtain a clearance.

Mr. Ray Blank handles security clearance issues at King Military Law. Ray is a retired Air Force Judge Advocate who then spent over a decade prosecuting security clearance proceedings for the government. He’s been involved in hundreds of security clearance cases, understands the process “from the inside,” and knows why and how decisions are made. You can’t find a better counselor to help you through the process. 

If you or a loved one are preparing to apply for or are facing issues with, a security clearance, reach out to us today for a free consultation. We want to help you and, better yet, we know how.

King Military Law

~~ Where Experience Matters Most ~~

What To Do if You Receive a Security Clearance Denial & Why It’s Vital to Hire a Lawyer

Security Clearance

In the world of government jobs, one of the most sought-after criteria is a security clearance. It takes a long time to get one, and even after months of processing, individuals can still face difficulty in getting approved. Sadly, many applicants will also receive a security clearance denial, which can be both stressful and discouraging. It’s important to remember that a security clearance denial does not mean you cannot reapply; it merely means that you may need to take a few extra steps to navigate the process of reapplication or contesting the decision.

Understandably, most applicants are unable to navigate the legal system on their own and need the help of a professional lawyer. A lawyer can not only help you to best understand the requirements of a security clearance but also to review your case and advise you on your options in the event of a security clearance denial. This guidance can prove invaluable, as they have the expertise to evaluate the full scope of the security clearance process and all the potential

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How to Help Victims of Military Medical Malpractice

Like all medical treatment providers, military providers make mistakes. Whether through lack of training, competence, or judgment, errors are made and often result in significant harm to the patient. Where their civilian counterparts can bring lawsuits for compensation to cover the costs of those mistakes or even to just hold the negligent provider accountable, military servicemembers may not. 

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Court Orders Navy to Review Medical Discharges of Thousands of Marines and Sailors

A recent court ruling could have a major impact on the lives of thousands of Sailors and Marines who were medically discharged from the Navy. On September 29th, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that a policy used by the Navy to help expedite its disability evaluation system was unlawful. This means that Sailors and Marines who were medically discharged, rather than retired, may be eligible for a review of their cases.

This is good news for the Sailors and Marines who were wrongfully discharged under this policy. If you or someone you know was affected by this policy, read on for more information about this ruling and how it may affect you.

Medical Discharge Vs Medical Retirement

There are a number of reasons why a service member may be medically discharged or retired from the military. In some cases, it is due to an injury or illness that occurred while on active duty. In other cases, it may be due to a pre-existing condition that was exacerbated by military service. 

If you were medically discharged, you likely received a lump sum disability severance, but you did not receive full health benefits or ongoing pay. Medical retirement, on the other hand, allows a service member to leave the military with retirement pay as well as disability compensation and access to many Defense Department benefits. 

This policy found to be unlawful barred Physical Evaluation Boards (PEBs) from taking into account any medical conditions that were not specifically listed by the Medical Evaluation Board (MEBs). The policy, put into place in 2016 but rescinded in 2018, was intended to streamline the process of determining whether a service member could remain in the military or be discharged for medical reasons. However, it had the effect of preventing many service members from being able to receive the benefits they deserved.

Under the old policy, PEBs were only allowed to consider medical conditions that were specifically enumerated by a Medical Evaluation Board. This meant that many service members with conditions that were not on the list were effectively barred from being considered for medical retirement benefits. In some cases, service members were discharged from the military without any benefits at all.

What does this ruling mean?

The court ruled that this policy was unlawful and ordered the Navy has review the cases of at least 3,700 Sailors and Marines who were discharged between Sept. 12, 2016 and June 11, 2018. The review will look at whether or not the service member should have been given a medical retirement instead of a medical discharge. This is important because a medical retirement allows the service member to keep their benefits and receive lifelong pay, whereas a medical discharge does not.

What happens next?

“We are thrilled that the Court has invalidated the unjust ‘Properly Referred’ policy. We are hopeful that the Court’s ruling will bring long overdue relief to the thousands of Sailors and Marines who were wrongfully denied disability retirement as a result of this illegal policy,” – Esther Leibfarth, Senior Staff Attorney at NVLSP

The judge’s order requires the Navy to review all cases of Sailors and Marines who were medically discharged between 2011 and 2015. The military will have to provide written justification for each discharge and former Sailors and Marines will be given an opportunity to appeal their case.

Under the new ruling, PEBs must now consider all medical conditions when making their evaluations. This is good news for service members who have been left in limbo by the previous policy. If you have been affected by this issue, please reach out to an attorney experienced in military law.

It’s time to get justice if you were affected!

Thousands of Sailors and Marines who were wrongfully discharged may finally get the benefits and justice they deserve. If you or someone you know may have been impacted by the court’s ruling, we invite you to contact King Military Law.

DOD Statistics on Sexual Assault Are Troubling, But Not For The Reasons You May Think

The newest DoD statistics show that reports of sexual assaults in the military are “up” by thirteen percent. The annual reports states that 7,916 Active service members reported “unwanted sexual contact” or attempts to commit this crime. Roughly eight percent of active-duty females and one point five percent of active-duty males reported “an experience” of unwanted sexual contact. However, of those reports, only 2,683 had “sufficient evidence” to take any disciplinary action and 177 of the reports were proven to be false.

Compare this to the civilian sector, where roughly twenty percent of females and twenty five percent of males report the same.

Ignoring the basic fact that sexual assault in much more prevalent in the civilian sector, Congress and DoD have taken several steps to further decrease the incidents of sexual assault. These measures include staffing every command with (usually) senior enlisted or officers serving as “Victim Advocates” and providing the alleged victim a dedicated uniformed attorney who is often assigned to the alleged victim long before the accused servicemember has a right to that same legal assistance. Additionally, alleged victims can request transfer to another command—a request that is routinely granted—if the allege they were sexually assaulted. Moreover, active duty servicemembers who commit misconduct of their own now may not be punished for that misconduct in the regular fashion if that misconduct was committed or is somehow tied to the servicemember’s report of sexual assault. Finally, finding that 39 percent of alleged victims of sexual assault “don’t trust” the military justice system to prosecute their allegations, Congress has made sweeping changes to the prosecution of sexual assault, including mandating that law enforcement and military prosecutors be experienced in their field and also receive extensive training focused on sexual assault. No such requirements or training are mandated for those who defend those accused of these crimes. Instead, military attorneys assigned to defend those accused of these crimes, often have little experience and no investigative resources. The imbalance created is stark and troubling.

And the imbalance between military and civilian resources is also stark. While civilian’s who allege they have been the victim of sexual assault may have an advocate within the county prosecutor’s office, none are afforded the protections Congress has provided our active-duty members. Yet civilian public defenders are experienced in their craft and have experienced investigators to assist them.

The imbalance deserves attention. While efforts to decrease actual sexual assault in the military are widely supported, care must be taken to protect the accused as well. As the 177 cases that were proven false indicate, unscrupulous individuals DO lodge false complaints to avoid arduous duty assignments or in an attempt to accountability for their own misconduct. Those of us who work hard to defend our defenders are routinely disappointed when our clients, accused of this terrible crime, are ostracized, have their records flagged, promotions upheld, and are forced to defend themselves at a court martial where the many, many of them are fully acquitted, but not before their police records are tarnished with an “arrest for sexual assault,” they spend tens of thousands of dollars on legal representation, and are never again the same person.

What’s worse, many are not even afforded the ability to defend themselves at a court martial. In the Navy and Marine Corps, many of those accused of sexual assault, where the evidence is insufficient to win a conviction at a court martial, are forced to nonjudicial punishment, where they have no right to legal representation, little experience or ability to defend themselves, and subject only to the Commanding Officer’s determination about whether the crime occurred. In the majority of these cases, these defenders lose, and are quickly forced out of the Service, often after many years of honorable service. What’s worse, this NJP “conviction for sexual assault” is made available to civilian employers and the now-former servicemember experiences incredible difficulty gaining employment—for the rest of their lives.

Sexual assault, like all crimes, should be prosecuted and those found guilty held appropriately accountable. However, those who constantly cry that DoD is deficient in its response and that “more must be done” ignores the fact that DoD is far better at reducing sexual assault than those leaders have been in their own districts. And to respond to their own cries, they have created a “special,” victim-centric justice system that incentivizes false allegations and deprives our defenders of the due process they deserve to defend themselves against the lifelong impacts of simply being accused of this crime. And while meaningful efforts to minimize any crime are welcome by all, the Due Process rights of our innocent-until-proven-guilty-defenders must be as equally high a priority. It is not now, and innocent men and women are needlessly suffering.

If you or a loved one are accused of sexual assault or sexual harassment in the military, please reach out immediately to an experienced military law attorney for assistance.

King Military Law

Where Experience Matters Most

Navy Desertion: A Sign of a Bigger Problem?

Navy Desertion

Much has been written about the recent rash of desertions from the Military, although the Navy seems most affected. In 2021, 157 sailors deserted, risking fairly severe consequences. In addition to loss of pay and benefits, the Sailor is subject to earning a dishonorable discharge and even prison time. Since the Army, Air Force, Marines nor the Coast Guard reported anywhere near these losses, desertions from the Navy may indicate a broader issue.

Last year, a water contamination crisis caused thousands of service members and their families to be uprooted from their homes in Hawaii and the problem took weeks to resolve. Also last year, Sailors interviewed by the Navy Times told stories about being forced to live without even the most fundamental necessities at the Barracks at Naval Support Activity, Bethesda. The barracks were lacking air conditioning throughout the hot months of summer, there was no running water available, and there was no way to secure their residence doors, either for privacy or to prevent incursions.

At Naval Air Station, Key West, Sailors were required to seek out lodging on their own when the Navy decided to close down the barracks for major repairs. Most widely publicized, Sailors aboard the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON were forced to live onboard during major construction. The living conditions were found to be abhorrent and forced the Navy to provide the entire crew with adequate accommodations off-ship, but only after an extreme uptick in suicides got Congressional attention.

In addition to the uptick of desertions, the Navy is separating a record number of (mostly) junior Sailors with “adjustment disorder” discharges. This permits the Navy to discharge a Sailor on the word of one medical professional who often doesn’t even meet with the Sailor before making the diagnosis of “adjustment disorder,” which results in the Sailor being separated with a less than honorable discharge, depriving the Sailor of the GI Bill and other education benefits from the VA.

If you or a loved one are experiencing difficulties while on active duty, please reach out to a Chaplain or counselor to get help. If you need to be released from the Navy, there are lawful and POSSIBLE ways short of discharge. Click here to learn more about these options or please reach out to an experienced military attorney for help. At KML, we would be honored to discuss your options during a free consultation. 

Similarly, if you’re being forced out by the Navy with an “adjustment disorder.” Give us a call and let us help.

And if you’re considering suicide, please let someone help:


~~Where Experience Matters Most~~

Security Clearance Denial, Suspension or Revocation: Top 3 Reasons and Courses of Action

If you’re in the military service or a civilian with a security clearance, than you know that clearance is crucial to your employment.  Unfortunately, there are several reasons why your security clearance might get suspended, revoked or denied. In this article, we discuss the most common reasons for denial or revocation of security clearance, and what your options are if this should happen to you.

Drug involvement

The federal government may revoke or suspend your security clearance when it suspects that you have been involved with illegal drugs. Keep in mind that marijuana, even though it may be legal in your state, is still illegal under federal law. Your ability to obtain or maintain a clearance can also be jeopardized by abusing prescription drugs. Finally, any arrest for drug possession, paraphernalia, or trafficking will endanger your ability to get or keep a clearance.

It’s possible that your clearance might not be affected if some of the following conditions are met: If your drug involvement is not recent or if it was an isolated incident; if you have sincerely expressed an intention not to use drugs in the future; and if you have gone through a drug treatment program and received a favorable prognosis.

Security violations

The government may revoke your clearance if it determines that you are in non-compliance with its security regulations. Anything that raises doubts about your trustworthiness or your ability to keep classified information safe can result in a suspension or denial of your security clearance. Your clearance can also be impacted if you should commit an unauthorized disclosure of classified information, or if you have multiple violations that could be construed as negligent.

It’s possible in some cases that security violations will not result in suspension of your clearance if your violations were isolated or inadvertent. It’s also possible that you won’t be affected if your violations were as a result of inadequate training. By demonstrating a positive attitude toward performing your security responsibilities, you may be able to avoid security suspension or to get reinstated.

Improper personal conduct

There are several ways that improper personal conduct could result in suspension or denial of your security clearance . Some examples of personal contact which could result in a negative ruling on your clearance include the following:

  • providing false information to an investigator or security official
  • deliberately concealing facts on security questionnaires or personal history statements
  • excessive debt
  • concealing information that might make you vulnerable to exploitation or coercion, for instance any action you may have committed which leaves you vulnerable to blackmail
  • associating with known criminals
  • engaging in a pattern of violating rules or demonstrating dishonesty which would be in violation of your service branch’s policies.

Course of action

Having your security clearance suspended or revoked can cost you your job. If you find yourself in this situation, your best course of action is to seek out an attorney experienced in handling these matters. The process can be complex and, like all legal matters, having an experienced attorney to help guide you through the process is worth the resource. You have several rights depending upon if your clearance is suspended, revoked or denied and depending on whther you are active duty or civilian. For more information on these rights and the steps you can take to protect them, please click here.

An experienced attorney will work to protect these rights and significantly increase your chances of success.

One review of 500 security clearance cases showed that applicants with attorneys were granted clearances 60% more often than those who represented themselves. An attorney who has experience representing clients in security clearance matters can help you navigate the pitfalls of the process, identify potential problems, help gather evidence to mitigate them, and ensure your package is as strong as possible. At King Military Law, we’ve worked security clearance issues from both sides of the fence, building comprehensive insight into the process. We know what works, what doesn’t, and why. What’s more, one of our attorneys has over 15 years-experience at the Department of Hearings and Appeals, where he represented the federal government in security clearance revocation hearings. He is extremely experienced in these matters and has a near 100 percent success rate in this area since joining KML.

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If you or a loved one has had their security clearance suspended or revoked for any reason, please seek the assistance of a law firm experienced in these matters and capable of fighting for your livelihood.
~~Where Experience Matters Most~~