Walsh releases military records, stands by support for Guard group

2014-01-27T06:00:00Z 2014-10-03T14:29:05Z Walsh releases military records, stands by support for Guard group missoulian.com

HELENA – U.S. Senate candidate John Walsh on Sunday released his entire military record with the Montana National Guard, including a 2010 letter in which he said he used “less than sound judgment” when urging fellow officers, on state time, to support a private group that advocates for the Guard.

Yet Walsh again said he wouldn’t apologize for supporting the private National Guard Association of the United States, which lobbies for better budgets and equipment for the Guard.

“I’ve been with my soldiers when they’ve been fired upon and when they’ve been taken off the field on stretchers,” he said at a news conference at his campaign headquarters in downtown Helena. “It’s because of them, and all American heroes, that I will never stop fighting to ensure that they receive the best equipment and training available.”

Walsh also was joined Sunday by several former Guard members and colleagues who spoke in his support, including Staff Sgt. John Bennett of Cascade, who said a better-armored vehicle for his Guard patrol might have prevented a 2005 injury in Iraq that put him in a wheelchair.

“(Walsh) fought then for what we as soldiers needed,” he said. “I truly believe I wouldn’t be in this chair if I had the equipment that I needed.”

Walsh, Montana’s lieutenant governor and the leading Democratic candidate this year for an open U.S. Senate seat in Montana, has been dogged by news stories in recent weeks about a 2010 U.S. Army investigation, report and official reprimand for his actions promoting the National Guard association.

The Army inspector general report said he improperly used his position as adjutant general of the Montana National Guard to solicit fellow officers to join the private group – a “non-federal entity” – and used an office employee to perform travel and administrative duties related to the group.

In response to the report, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff for the Army, issued a letter of reprimand to Walsh on Oct. 1, 2010, calling his actions “unacceptable, inconsistent with the conduct expected of senior leaders and violative of our Army’s values.”

Walsh gave reporters copies of the Oct. 1 letter on Sunday, as well as his Oct. 21 response in which he said he regretted his actions, said they “were in no way intended for personal gain,” and asked that the reprimand not go in his official military personnel file.

Chiarelli, in a Nov. 2 letter that Walsh also released Sunday, said the reprimand would go in Walsh’s official personnel file, along with Walsh’s Oct. 21 response.

Walsh also has acknowledged that the incident prevented him from getting a federally recognized promotion to the rank of brigadier general. He retired as a colonel from the National Guard in March 2012, when he decided to be Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Bullock’s running mate.

Bullock and Walsh won election to governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, last November.

Walsh released 400 pages of his military record Sunday, including not only the 2010 report and its follow-up, but scores of pages of commendations for exemplary service.

He also told reporters Sunday that coverage of the investigation and reprimand has largely ignored the work of the private National Guard Association, which he said has provided vital support for programs and equipment for Guard soldiers.

The group has “led the fight” to get Guardsmen the same equipment and post-war support that’s available to active-duty military, said Walsh, who spent 33 years in the Guard before retiring in 2012.

“I won’t ever apologize for fighting for them or their families,” he said.

Bennett, in an interview after the news conference, said he was injured in February 2005 by a sniper’s bullet that shattered two vertebrae and caused him to lose a kidney, his spleen and half his pancreas.

He said he was shot after getting out of a Humvee, and if it would have had an armored turret, like those issued to active-duty troops in Iraq, he likely would have known earlier they were being fired on by a sniper.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at 1-800-525-4920 or by email at mike.dennison@lee.net.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. Dubs
    Report Abuse
    Dubs - January 27, 2014 2:59 pm
    Sorry, Mr. Walsh, you have to much baggage to dig out from. I know people that know you and get good reports as far as being a good guy, but feel it would be tough to vote for you. Think it is going to be hard for any Democrat to hide their support for Obamacare and act like they are not supportive of this hot button issue.
  2. Leadfoot
    Report Abuse
    Leadfoot - January 27, 2014 9:36 am
    Mr. Walsh: when you say "I’ve been with my soldiers when they’ve been fired upon and when they’ve been taken off the field on stretchers,” are you saying that you've been directly in combat & fired upon? Directly? Really? Or does the above statement mean that you were on the same continent when these soldiers were fired upon. Big difference, and after reviewing your actions & deceptive statements (you didn't deny having illegally harassed your junior officers into joining a private organization, but rather stated only that this organization has done good things) connected to your most recent Reservist conflict, it adds credence to the fact that you probably embellished this combat action, too. These are facts that the Army can EASILY verify, if necessary. If, in fact, you did embellish, you will disappear into the sunset where you belong. To you Liberals out there, much ado about nothing, again? Definitely not Democrat material for a replacement Senator position, but typical of character.
  3. Run - A- Mook
    Report Abuse
    Run - A- Mook - January 26, 2014 6:52 pm
    Mr. Walsh, when you do the following,

    The Army inspector general report said he improperly used his position as adjutant general of the Montana National Guard to solicit fellow officers to join the private group – a “non-federal entity” – and used an office employee to perform travel and administrative duties related to the group.

    And the Vice-Chief of Staff for the Army, says,

    In response to the report, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff for the Army, issued a letter of reprimand to Walsh on Oct. 1, 2010, calling his actions “unacceptable, inconsistent with the conduct expected of senior leaders and violates (violative) (of) our Army’s values.”

    How can we trust, that you have not violated you oath of office that
    you took when you became Lt. Governor. (And) how can we believe
    you, if you take the oath to become a Senator.

    False in one - False in all.
    If you believe that any witness or party willfully or knowingly testified falsely to any material facts in the case, with intent to deceive you, you may give such weight to his or her testimony as you may deem it is entitled. You may believe some of it, or you may,

    Mr. Walsh, this is the part that bothers me, {in your discretion, disregard all of it.}
    How much of the oath are you willing or/are going to disregard?
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