I have a Soldier that was recently charged with drug trafficking – What do I do? | AskTOP.net – Leader Development for Army Professionals

I have a Soldier that was recently charged with drug trafficking – What do I do?

I had a Soldier arrested for Drug Trafficking under 30 kilograms. He is out on bond right now. How do I deal with this situation?

Great question.  First this is a legal matter and the specifics of the case need to be handled through legal channels.  I would not discuss the issue with the Soldier.

It is important the Soldier understand they will be treated fairly and that you will be a responsible leader and ensure they receive due process and fair treatment.  By treating the Soldier fairly, the Soldier will usually do his/her best with regard to duty performance.  If the Soldier is ostracized then other events are more likely.  The Soldier can feel isolated, unwanted, become depressed, etc.  Therefore it is important to keep the Soldier as part of the team.  He may have done something wrong but it is not your position to punish him.

In my opinion your position is to let him know you will support him as you are required by duty, and that he has the capability to recover from this event.  This is not a life ending event, but a life changing event.  Even a bad situation like this can be used to put a person on the right track.  If convicted, the Soldier will most likely be separated.  If it is going in that direction the Soldier needs to do their best to begin preparing for the civilian sector.  They can best do that by keeping the chain of command on their side by maintaining a positive and professional attitude.  The chain of command can assist the Soldier in transition by allowing them to research benefits that might be available to them; perhaps assistance in preparing a resume, possible civilian careers, etc.

In my career I had the displeasure to separate Soldiers under similar conditions.  My goal was to treat them with dignity and respect, not judge them, and to treat them like my other Soldiers.  The Soldier knows there will be consequences for their actions.  It is important they know you care and expect them to maintain the standards they usually perform.  When they see that you are also willing to assist them in getting through the event or preparing for separation that tends to help them as they do not feel alone.  I have had several Soldiers separate and later communicate with me that they appreciated they way I treated them and helped them during a difficult period.

The chain of command should take this situation seriously and watch the Soldier for signs of stress and/or potential harm to the Soldier and/or others.  If the Soldier is at risk of causing harm the chain of command needs to seek assistance for the Soldier, and possibly consider a watch system for the Soldier, consider medical review for the Soldier, etc.
This is a challenge for leadership, but it is also a challenge for the Soldier.  The Soldier is facing an unknown future, and is most likely feeling overwhelmed, embarrassed, etc.  If the command shows they care the situation usually turns out OK.  If leadership chooses to judge or kick the Soldier when they are down it can turn bad in a hurry; not just for the Soldier but for leadership as well.
As a leader you should be concerned about the following issues:

1. Soldier health, welfare, and safety
2. Is the Soldier exhibiting signs of stress?
3. Does the Soldier exhibit indications that he could harm himself or others?
4. Does the Soldier need to have privileges revoked if he is a threat to himself, others, or a flight risk?

Constantly follow up and check on the Soldier.  This has to be done in a positive and professional manner and should be done randomly. For example: calling the Soldier on the weekend or in the evening just to see if they need anything or just need to talk (but not about the illegal activity).  If the Soldier speaks to you about illegal activity you have a duty to report it.  You can help the Soldier by listening to how they feel, etc.,  but if the Soldier needs to talk about illegal activity they need to talk to an attorney or another confidential source.


A counseling might be in order that would basically state something like:

RANK/NAME, on or about INSERT DATE, I was informed of an issue regarding you and law enforcement.  This matter will be dealt with as required with regard to the legal process.  As your Squad Leader I want to encourage you to remain professional as you deal with this event.  I would encourage you to speak with an attorney and refrain from speaking to other individuals until you have been advised by an attorney.

I understand these situations can be stressful and if you are found to have committed the offense there will be some level of consequences for your actions.  As you negotiate the legal process it is important that you remain professional.  If at any time you need to talk I am available to speak with you within the limits of my authority.  Our conversations are not off the record.  If you need to speak with someone in a confidential manner I can arrange for you to speak with an attorney and/or chaplain.  If at any time you feel that there is a danger of harming yourself or others it is imperative you seek assistance immediately.  I understand situations like this can be very stressful but this is a temporary situation that will pass and it is an event that you can successfully overcome in time.  Regardless of the outcome I want to encourage you to do the best you possibly can and strive learn from this experience.

I will assist you to the best of my ability within the confines of my authority, duty, and responsibility as long as it does not compromise my integrity or professional ethics.  Most people face difficult issues throughout the course of their life. The key is to use this experience in a way that allows you to learn and grow from it.
If you need anything please feel free to contact me at:
Would you like me to make you an appointment with the following agencies: Chaplain, ASAP, JAG, IG, or other agency?

Before giving the Soldier a counseling statement make sure you run it by your chain of command. You want to make sure you have their support and importantly do not say something inappropriate.

We Appreciate your feedback! Did you find this information Useful?


Show Full Article
posted on 10/11/2013 under Q&A
Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

Disclaimer: Though all content posted on AskTOP.net is reviewed by our qualified subject matter experts, you should not make decisions based solely on the information contained in this post. Use information from multiple sources when making important professional decisions. This is not an official government website.

You might be interested in…

Leave a Comment

We will never publish or sell your email address, nor will we ever send you information you have not requested.