Critic says probes into military recruitment program have ruined the lives of service members

A critic of investigations into a National Guard recruitment program told Hill.TV that the probes have ruined the lives of service members caught up in the probes.

"It's massive," Liz Ullman, founder of the nonprofit advocacy group Defend Our Protectors, told Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti in an interview that aired Tuesday. "Some people are in prison. A few people have committed suicide. It's been a real tragedy."

"The criminal investigation agents from the Army, Army [Criminal Investigation Division], has conducted an investigation that basically presumes that a crime has been committed, and they set about making sure that the evidence they collect proves that," she added.

Ullman was referring to a dispute between the Army and the National Guard that stems from the creation of the National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program.

The program, launched in 2005, aimed to help tackle the Army National Guard's troop shortage by offering financial incentives to recruiters.

Last week, the Supreme Court heard a case involving a cash incentive program that was subcontracted by the National Guard to the company DOCUPAK, which was directed to increase recruitment by providing cash incentives to soldiers in an effort to bring in new recruits.

Other military branches and Congress began looking into incidents of potential fraud in 2013, and Ullman says the probes have led to the harassment of National Guard soldiers and a feud between the Army and the National Guard.

"And so we've got, in some cases, enlisted men and women who cannot afford a high-ticket criminal defense attorney relying on a public defender against massive amounts of government information, and they tell their clients to accept a plea," she said. "A plea means that they are going to have a permanent record in the FBI. They're not going to pass a background check."

"People have lost teaching licenses, and medical licenses, and real estate licenses. People have had their bank accounts closed. They can't buy a gun," she said. "This is a permanent blemish on their records."

The Army did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Hill.TV.

— Julia Manchester