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AMVETS, VFW voice concerns for inmate looking to avoid jail by re-enlisting, call on DoD to formally deny waiver

WASHINGTON D.C. (Jan. 19, 2022) – American Veterans (AMVETS) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) call on the Department of Defense to reject any waiver request spurred by an outrageous, disgusting offer made by a Kentucky judge to a convicted sexual predator. 

Kentucky’s 48th Judicial Circuit Judge Thomas D. Wingate offered an indecent proposal to a male convicted of abusing his authority to sexually assault a female. The judge told the convicted 28-year-old Brandon Scott Price in court that if he re-enlisted within a month, he’d be spared time behind bars. Price is reportedly willing to accept that offer. 

Price was a jail guard in Franklin County, Ky., in 2019 when he sexually assaulted a shackled female inmate. 

The military has its challenges in recruiting, but this is not the answer. The practice of criminal courts making such deals must end now. The men and women in our all-volunteer armed forces are the best of best, putting their lives on the line in defense of freedom at their own will. No judge should attempt to send someone convicted of such a heinous crime into their ranks. 

The Washington Post reports Price’s attorney said Price has already begun the process of attempting to enlist in the U.S. Army. Defense Department policy does not allow for anyone convicted of sexual assault to enlist, reenlist, or be commissioned. National Commanders Heun and Fritz Mihelcic call on the Pentagon to ensure no waiver of that policy be approved in this or any other similar case. 

This is wildly degrading to every man and woman who proudly wears or has worn our nation’s uniform. This suggests to the public that the military is where criminals go, that it is a correctional institute rather than a band of brothers and sisters dedicated to serving their nation.  

It says to service members, ‘In an attempt to correct Mr. Price’s behavior, we will unleash him and his predatory behavior on you. Good luck.’ 

With the goal of converting Mr. Price into a positive contributor to society, we hope that he pays his proper debt to society and receives the counseling and treatment he needs. 

“The opportunity to serve our nation in the military is an honor and a privilege, not an alternative to punishment,” said VFW National Commander Fritz Mihelcic. “While Mr. Price already served his country once, his behavior proved he is no longer worthy of that privilege again. It is ludicrous that a judge in this day and age would even consider that an option for a sexual predator. How out of touch and disrespectful to our service men and women can one ruling be?”

“The notion that an elected judge believes American service members should be subjected to Mr. Price and his behavior is appalling,” Commander Heun said. “Putting service members at the risk of assault in some apparent attempt to somehow reform or punish Mr. Price is unconscionable.” 

There is also legislation that has been filed through the Florida House and Senate would provide the option of serving in the military instead of behind bars. Although there are caveats to this proposed option, legislation like such begins to mold the mission and vision of of military from being a service entrust to protect and defend the United States, led by many of our nation’s finest leaders, to one of a rehabilitation system that serves simply to rewire the moral fiber of troubled individuals. This is another example of an outdated misuse of our military, as well as a disservice to the past and present men and women who wore the uniform.  

One thing that both Judge Wingate and several lawmakers has made clear is that there is an urgent need for better societal education on sexual assault and harassment. AMVETS and VFW condemn sexual assault and will continue to be an ally in efforts to end it. 

About the VFW: The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is the nation’s largest and oldest major war veterans organization. Founded in 1899, the congressionally chartered VFW is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. With more than 1.5 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in over 6,000 Posts worldwide, the nonprofit veterans service organization is proud to proclaim “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS” than the VFW, which is dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs. For more information, or to join, visit our website at vfw.org.

AMVETS is a nonpartisan, nonprofit veterans service organization, representing the interests of the more than 19 million American Veterans in the United States. AMVETS was founded in 1944 and has the most inclusive membership criteria among all Congressionally chartered veterans service organizations.

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Contact: Miles Migliara                                                        

Chief Communications Officer                                          

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January 20th, 2022
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