The scope of the G-RAP investigation is costing taxpayers. Millions of dollars are being spent looking at the wrong people and lives are being destroyed.
The average cost of investigating a single financial crime is $15,000-$20,000. By that measure, investigating even 1% of the 109,000 individuals who participated in G-RAP program, is costing taxpayers $15million-$20million.
But the millions used for the CID investigations, prosecutions and incarcerations are just the beginning. Any soldier convicted of a felony will receive a dishonorable discharge from the Army. However, there are a number of instances in which soldiers who have not been convicted are still being forcefully separated as the National Guard races to show that they are ‘doing something.’ There is no ‘innocent until proven guilty’ for these men and women.
Replacing these soldiers will cost taxpayers a minimum of $57,500 to train each new soldier and up to $1,400,000 to train for Special Forces. If only half of those investigated are separated, it will cost at least $100 million to replenish our troops.
So is it all worth it? As of Feb 4, 2014, there were 28 convictions, accounting for $29million.* And, the cost to taxpayers is only the beginning. What about the cost to those accused?
In addition to the tangible costs of defense attorneys (quickly adding up to tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars) and, for many, an inability to work (as firearms may not be used when one is charged with a felony), there are also the intangible costs to the vilified soldiers and their families as reputations are being sullied and they endure months of stressful investigations and prosecutions. In several instances, even after cases being declined by the US attorney, charges dismissed, and soldiers acquitted and fully exonerated by National Guard Separation boards, an overzealous CID is taking administrative punitive actions using GOMAR and debarment letters. These letters affect a soldier forever, destroying careers and reputations.
Finally, there is the cost to morale within the National Guard as a whole. There are approximately 438,000 members in the National Guard; around 109,000 took part in the program. That means that 23% of our National Guard stands to be investigated and wrongfully prosecuted (86,000 have already been investigated). The message these soldiers have received is that they are not trusted by the National Guard and cannot trust their own command. This particular cost cannot be underestimated. For an institution built on an ethos of trust and honor through the ranks, the erosion of this principle by commanders seeking to escape blame by scapegoating soldiers could be devastating in combat.
*The number of convictions is now closer to 40—still an underwhelming number when trying to justify the sacrifice of thousands of innocents.