The flying fraternity: Ghost soldiers of the Vermont National Guard
By: Jasper Craven for VTDigger, November 28, 2018
As the Vermont National Guard has struggled to recruit new members, leadership has purposely delayed the discharges of hundreds of enlisted personnel over several years in an effort to project a false sense of operational readiness, according to documents obtained by VTDigger.
Officials believe this practice, in which Vermont Guard leaders keep former personnel on the books for months after they leave the base, is ongoing. They say that once the Guard submits annual inflated numbers to state and national authorities, employees are slowly discharged, not in one fell swoop but instead one by one, so as to avoid raising suspicions. Internal documents suggest the practice takes time away from other tasks inside the organization and could trigger a federal inquiry.
“They would keep people on the books for as much as a year,” a former Guard member said. “It’s a longstanding policy.”
While the length of delayed discharges vary, statistics obtained by VTDigger show that one soldier was held for 640 days beyond his official discharge date.