Matthew Tumbleson, Student Government [SG] senator for the School of Communication and associate editor of the Ibis Yearbook, has recently been ordered by the U.S. military to attend recruit training camp as part of the U.S. Navy’s CASH program. However, Tumbleson says that his enrollment into the program was a result of miscommunication between himself and recruiting officers.
“I’ve worked very hard to get where I am now at UM,” Tumbleson said. “I planned to eventually become more active and involved on campus and now those plans may not happen.”
Currently, Tumbleson is pursuing legal action on the issue, although he could not disclose details to The Miami Hurricane.
According to his contract, Tumbleson says that he is required to commit two years of training and four years of service to the military, without the opportunity to earn a degree. Tumbleson was originally under the impression that he was signing up for the Bachelor’s Degree Completion Program.
Tumbleson says that last June, while in an emotionally weakened state because of family problems and illness, he approached a recruiter for the Navy and asked him what steps would need to be taken in college in order to become an officer upon graduation.
“The recruiter immediately took out a piece of paper and scribbled a few things on it,” Tumbleson said. “I naively believed all of them but none of them will come true.”
Tumbleson says that he made it very clear that graduating was his priority.
“Nowhere did I mention joining the service before graduation,” Tumbleson said. “The recruiter took it upon himself to lie to my family and to me.”
The recruitment officer in question is part of the Navy CASH program, a program designed to allow enlistment to active duty of applicants who qualify for a variety of specialized fields. According to the official website for the program, it is meant to penetrate the high quality college and college-bound market.
“I literally signed my life away,” Tumbleson said.
Tumbleson, currently a print journalism major pursuing a career in media law, says that the misinformed recruiter told him to choose the field with the biggest signing bonus when he signed up for the program, engineering being that career.
“I am a journalism student pursuing a career in media law, and these heathens want me to do math for bomb builders,” Tumbleson said.
Recently, Tumbleson was ordered to attend an emergency meeting with a Commanding Officer [CO] of the CASH program.
“I was ordered to attend the meeting even though it impeded on my class schedule and schoolwork,” Tumbleson said. “I was talked at by various military personnel for over an hour, and the CO told me that I have to go boot camp in May.”
“I am ordered to serve ten years for the military to become an engineer.”
Tumbleson says the CO has informed him that he is known as a “deserter” – a crime that can be punishable by death, as cited in the Uniform Code of Military Justice [UCMJ].
According to an email message that Tumbleson received from an officer working with his case, there are many consequences if Tumbleson decides not to follow through with his contract.
“In the short term you may be fined and restricted to a Navy Custody Control Unit,” the message said. “In the long term you would be barred from military service and barred from many government jobs.”
Tumbleson’s civilian employment may also be affected because he would not be eligible for many jobs that require a background check.
“The conditions of your discharge would not be looked on favorably by your future employers,” the message continued.
Despite the consequences, Tumbleson wants others to be aware of his situation so that they can learn from it.
“I’m still not even sure if I am fighting for my own rights, or if I’m simply leading a fight for the rights of all the soldiers battling in Iraq who were coerced into signing and had no media outlet to express their frustration.
“I understand that the reason there is protection of speech is because of soldiers battling in foreign lands, but I still cannot yield from the fact that I had no intention of ever leaving school for the military, and I never will. Regardless of the outcome, I’m in a lose-lose battle and I’m really frustrated.”
For more information about the Navy and its various programs, visit www.navy.com.
The Miami Hurricane will continue to follow-up on this situation as it develops.
Jorge Arauz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org