When you sign up for military service, that branch of the armed services effectively “owns” you for the duration of your service to your country. Everything from the length of your hair to where you are permitted to go and when you can leave is regulated.
That type of intensive pressure can build up and make even the most solid soldier go a little buggy. When that occurs, what frequently results is an AWOL episode.
Are you really AWOL?
Being found to be Absent Without Leave (AWOL) is serious business for servicemembers. In some cases, it can be a career-ending situation. How it pans out for your future depends greatly on the circumstances of your actions.
For instance, are you truly AWOL — or worse? There are different levels of an AWOL situation, so where do you fall?
Could it be Missing Movement?
You were supposed to board a ship. That ship has sailed, and whether by intent or neglect, you are stuck on the dock. What happens next depends on why the ship sailed without you. If you were too drunk from the night before to board the ship, the penalties and consequences will be much more severe than if you were hit by a drunk driver on the way to your port of call.
Are you absent without leave?
Any time you are supposed to be on a post or place of duty and fail to show up (or leave without permission of your superiors) you can face AWOL charges.
Are you accused of desertion?
Anyone who is AWOL for 30 days or more is considered to be a deserter. The penalties for desertion are the most severe of all and could even include the death penalty for wartime desertion.
You don’t have to face the consequences alone
When an AWOL situation arises for whatever reason, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Learning more about your legal options for defense is always prudent.