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The Truth: What Happens When You Go AWOL

What You Don't Know About Being AWOL

AWOL (Absent Without Leave) this is the United States Military term for a soldier that has abandoned his place of duty. Everyone knows what this is if they didn't before they definitely knew about it after a particular movie came out about it.

I'm going to tell you what most people do not know about being AWOL, what happens (the process), what it means to the soldier, punishments, and who it really affects.

This article is meant to be informative. In no way is this condoning AWOL or glorifying the issue. This is meant to inform the general public of a real, but otherwise unheard of offense.

If you are reading this and you are AWOL, my advice to you would be to turn your self into the nearest military installation. If you can, go back to the unit that you went AWOL from as soon as you can.

AWOL Apprehension

AWOL Apprehension

What it Means To the Soldier

When you decide to go AWOL you decide to leave your place of duty for more than 24 hours. Before you can even be listed as AWOL you must be away from your place of duty for 24 hours and one minute past the hour. So if you were supposed to show up for morning physical training at 0600 and you never arrived and you still have not returned to work after 0601, you will be considered AWOL.

Your unit will report you missing to the local financial office and the Military Police station. A report will be done on you and you will be considered AWOL until you either turn yourself in or you are apprehended by civilian authorities.

The Process

Now each Military installation has its own AWOL Apprehension unit in some way, shape, or form. This is where your unit that you went AWOL from reports you being gone too.

The first initial report will be after 24 hours no more and no less. The second report that will be done will be for the charge of desertion. The military considers you a deserter after a certain period of time, and that time period is defined as the soldier being gone for a total of thirty consecutive days. A warrant for your arrest will also be issued, so if you are driving and you get pulled over you will be arrested, and you will sit in the county jail until you can be picked up by the closest military authorities.

Also, if your unit knows where you are and you are under the thirty-day mark they can inform the MP station to tell them where you are. The MP's will coordinate with local law enforcement to come and pick you up without a warrant. Now, the local law enforcement has to agree to cooperate with the MP's, given that the MP's do not have authority off the post.

Your unit also files paperwork with the local financial office, to stop your pay as soon as you go AWOL.

The Punishment

I will tell you now it is better for you if you turn yourself in. If you are picked up by civilian authorities the punishment you will receive will be worse.

You could serve up to a maximum of 1 year or later. Be separated out of the Army on a bad conduct discharge or receive a dishonorable discharge.

Overall the person that will say if they want to pursue charges or not is the Company Commander of your unit. They could pursue the max punishment or and Article 15 Field Grade or Company Level.

Who It Really Effects

I have had the unwanted pleasure of working with this close hand. This offense hurts the soldier's family more than the soldier him/herself. The family is the one who receives phone calls asking where you are. They are subject to accessory if they hide you. They are the ones who feel hurt if you are put in jail. When you lose your pay they will feel the blunt of it.

You may find a job after you go AWOL, but sooner or later that warrant will catch up with you and you will be forced to do things you do not want to do. You will be yanked from the new life you built and your family is the ones left in the wind with a gaping mouth and a confused look wondering if you will be back.

If you are lucky you will serve a minimal amount of time, but I have seen families go broke because of this offense. Again if you are AWOL turn yourself in, get it over and done with the faster you are done the better it is for you and your family.

This article is an overview of what could happen. The overall judge of your fate is your current Company Commander and the United States Military Court System.

© 2010 James Wassinger

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Bernice Wilson on December 14, 2018:

I have a question. My fiance on a diplomatic visa through the amry n wanted to stay I told him he has to go back home because of the consequences but his friend did. He is supposed to marry a us citizen how is that going to affect him?

dfe on October 26, 2018:

Anyone know the truth about the US Army, Engineers, Korea base, around 1957 -1958, who punished the AWOL soldiers by sending them to a small out-post shack in the mountains of Korea during winter months with little fuel to heat with and little food? If so, how often did this happen?

Patricia Greer on October 04, 2018:

I would like to talk to you about a situation that is very intersection, and I would like to hear your thoughts.

Trudy Lowe on September 28, 2018:

My grandson went AWOL for 28 days, then went back to base. He was given a less than honorable discharge from the army. Its been seven mos and he can't get a job due to this discharge. He has a baby due in two weeks, and almost at the point of sucide. He's very depressed. He had been diagnosed with ADD as a child & put on some horrible medications that now they say its the same as cocaine. What can he do???

KL Konnect on July 08, 2018:

The BEST way to avoid this situation is to never put yourself in a situation where any possibility of wanting to go AWOL will exist in the first place.

At least, this makes sense to me.

CanadianTom on June 02, 2018:

As a resident alien, I just deserted the USMC and moved back to Canada. No way was I going to be subjected to those very dangerous anthrax vaccines. Now 19 years later I have a good job, nice home, wonderful wife and three beautiful daughters. Best decision I ever made!

TommyTheCanuck on June 02, 2018:

As a resident , I desert

ARO on March 15, 2018:

I did 8 years active and got out with honorable discharge. I joined the reserves right after getting out. I did 3 or 4 drills then i requested a coast to coast transfer but i never reported when i moved. This was 8 years ago and now im trying to get back in. Will i be able too?

JLW on March 06, 2018:

I have an interesting situation that I would like your opinion(s) on. My mother joined the Air Force back in the late 70's or early 80's. She completed basic training and was allowed to go home before she was to be assigned. They never gave her an assignment even though she had called many times asking for one. Eventually, she just went on with her life and her time in military was no more than an old memory. Here is the weird part... She has been getting mail for many years geared towards veterans (loan offers, events, etc etc). So we are not sure what her status is at the moment. And she is horribly scared that they would classify her as being AWOL (though she was just unassigned) and they would arrest and imprison her so we never looked into it at all.

So at this point, I would like to know if there is any chance that they would classify her as being AWOL, have a warrant out for her (though she's never had any problems with employment or background checks), want/need to arrest her, her military status, and if she actually has any benefits.

How would we safely proceed with find this information out and resolving any issues?


Sharyn Sheppard on March 04, 2018:

I was Awol for 90 day and i finally got back to base. I was awol this long bc i had amnesia after an accident. i filed papers but am still getting a chapter 14 and my husband and i just found out in february that im pregnant. Plus a sargent told me that my pay would be reinstated. Ive been back for a month can someone tell me whats going on?

MIchael K on January 26, 2018:

Is there a way I could speak to you in person or on the phone.

I have requested my info already AND THOUGHT I had been cleared of all charges. I believe this is a records mistake


Steven Mathews. on January 19, 2018:

What if you go awol before basic training in the national guard? If you miss drills?

April on January 16, 2018:

My son is in the Marine Corps but had to go to MOS school but went 10 days later and now I fear his in trouble. How much trouble can he in? His at MOS school now but they want paperwork why he wasn't there those 10 days.

Justin on December 29, 2017:

My girlfriends brother keeps coming home on liberty flying out of state. He is doing this without leave. And he tells me he is technically awol every time he does this. Will my girlfriends family get into trouble for having him at there house?

michelle A butts on December 15, 2017:

What if they go awol on deployment in another country?

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on November 30, 2017:

@Angie You can send me a message directly using Hubpages or DM using Twitter. Thank you.

Angie on November 20, 2017:

Dear James,

Please will you send me your email address as I would like to get in contact with you via mail.

Tom on October 13, 2017:

I served 6 years in the Army, 2 deployments and always had good conduct,got my DD2014 and after my contract ended I went to live to another country because I was so stressed out almost to the point of being suicidal, just needed a different environment and I believe I have to do 2 more years in the reserves by never showed up. After 7 years I feel ready to go back but what my punishment would be?

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on September 21, 2017:

@ingen I am curious if you are not a US Citizen how were you able to join the Army? Also, curious if you are in a different country "your country of origin", and I am assuming have been for the past 14 years and you are for sure you would not be extradited why are you asking about turning yourself in? Planning a trip back to the US? What would happen if you were to turn yourself in? Well, it is up to the current commander of the unit you went AWOL from to decide to prosecute or just dishonorably discharge. A good question is; Yes. You went AWOL, but did they fill out the proper paperwork? Did they issue a Federal Warrant for your arrest after 30 days? You may want to inquire additional information from the MPs at the military installation you originally went AWOL from. Hope that helps.

ingen on September 18, 2017:

I am curious how you would council a person who has been UA for close to 14 years, due to harrasment and hazing issues at their command. Issues that the person reported in writing and is on file but were not delt with This same person is not a US citizen, lives in their country of origin, which has the highest HDI number in the worldy, and is in no danger of extradition. If this person were to give themselves up shouldn't that count for something in the eyes of the military. In this case the armed forces are impotent, and all the ussual instruments that work for them against a UA/AWOL service memeber are negated. In other words, what would they be willing to reduce of the legal issues, if this person were to surrender willingly, and return to military control?

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on August 21, 2017:

@Jose Even though I do not condone going AWOL under any circumstances, they do have hardship discharges. If you would have explained to your reserve command what was going on they may have helped or pointed you in the right direction for assistance. However, you joined the Active Army in 1980 and served your time in the Active Army, and received an Honorable Discharge. If you have a DD214 that can prove that then I would consider you a veteran. Hope that helps.

Jose on August 20, 2017:

I join the army in 1980. Then I was honorably discharged A1 discharged. I joined the army reserves a few months later for 3 more years. I wasn't happy that I had to change mos. but I had no choice. Then after a little more that a year. My live fell apart. I was so messed up that I didn't go back to my army reserve unit. It's been over thirty years now. I sit and think. That I was once a great solider and I have always been a proud vet. But I feel horrible about going awol. I have alway been embarrassed to find out. My vet Strauss am I still considered a vet. The people who know me know that I loved my time in the army and that I am proud to be a army veteran. But I still guilty.

Gavin on June 21, 2017:

My friend went awol for 10 years now im very concerned cos he has 3 kids and a wife can you please tell me how long he will get ?

Summer on February 18, 2017:

My husband want AWOL for a few months before I met him and we were married. He turned himself in and did his time in the BRIG. He then made up the time he was AWOL and in the BRIG and was honorably discharged. At the end of ALL of that he still put in his 4 service years (it was a little over 5 years total) and he got out. He realized that the corps was what he really wanted to do with his life but was turned away. He got his DD214 showing his honorable dischare and his 4 tours but was turned away. He was even turned away from the Army and the National Guard stating it was because of his AWOL status. He is a shell of a man and desperately wants to get "back in" and feels that he did his time for his can we make this happen for him???

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on January 28, 2017:

@Robert thank for your comment. Unfortunately, you are considered a deserter after being in an AWOL status for 30 days. Sorry that you feel that I am "uninformed" even though this was part of my job in the Active US Army. Instead of relying on online articles for "credible resources", I would consider your references as invalid creditable resources, this is basic if you've every completed a college level report. A true example of a credible resource would be a reference to the UCMJ. If you served and I use that term loosely in the comment section of this article, which is a different conversation for a different time, but if you feel you would like to discuss this further feel free to contact me, you would know to reference the UCMJ for creditability.

jameswassinger on January 28, 2017:

@g not that I am aware of, at least not to the public.

Robert on January 26, 2017:

You are not considered a deserter for being gone for more than 30 days. This was obviously written by someone uninformed on the matter. Most AWOL cases I know about did not result in any confinement but the longest period I have personally known about is just short of a year and a half. A simple google search provided this:

To be considered a deserter, intent has to be proven. It is not that easy and often times not worth the military's time and money to pursue. And based on my experiences, AWOL will result in you hanging around for a few months while all of the paperwork is processed and then you will be chaptered out of the service.

g on January 22, 2017:

is there a list of awol soilders that we can look at?

Lizet on January 10, 2017:

My husband went AWOL in September 2016 we got married august 2016 I don't know where he is or anything will the army help me with divroce paperwork? I am not on DEERS. Isn't there something they have to help me with or do I have to be on DEERS. In out of options please help

Doug on October 27, 2016:

My friend has been AWOL for over 35 years. He has been living in Brazil. If he comes back to the US, will he be arrested for the AWOL charge?

julian on October 25, 2016:

if your a soldier, how long do you go to jail for, i need this for homework, the 3rd ammendment

Miss.Lady on October 02, 2016:

If you go AWOL from the Marines do you lose everything like the home you live in your scholarships for school and whatever else the government has provided for you?

Matt on July 13, 2016:

I've been AWOL for 2 years and missed deployment. I went abroad but realize I want to see my family again and know how bad a decision I made but I was young and stupid. I want to go back and take the s**t and get on with my life. Will immigration at airport know I have a warrant when I go back? I would like to see my family for a few days before I hand myself in. What do you think will happen to me?

Jay on April 05, 2016:

I joined the US ARMY in 1973, I was 16 years old after swearing in my mother wouldn't let me report, 30 years later I received a call from the NSA stating that I was AWOL, after explaining that I was underage they

said that it would not affect me in any way, I would like to know if I could get a written statement of verification.

Tasha on September 28, 2015:

What does it mean when you go awol from working in the government. For like an hour

Mike on September 07, 2015:

My son is in basic at ft leonardwood. He has been moved to a holding co. And was told he commited a sharp violation. Im retired army should i go tbere i am not getting any answers.

Wrangler24 on August 09, 2015:

I joined the Army Reserves in 2007 and graduated Military Police AIT in 2008. I then returned from Missouri and attended two drills before going AWOL. I told them I was having mental issues due to the stress in basic and AIT and they asked me to see the Army's medical review board.At the time I wanted nothing to do with the Army so I refused to go and have since cut communications with my unit. In my last conversation with my 1LT, he said he would recommend a General Discharge under Honorable Conditions. It has been about 7 years since I've gone AWOL. I've gotten traffic tickets, purchased firearms, been through background checks and nothing turned up. The only DD214 I have is the one I got after finishing AIT. Why isn't the Army coming after me and is it possible for me to either rejoin the Army Reserves or join the local law enforcement in the future?

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on June 26, 2015:

@Dana Kiptoo: Call Fort Lee if you think he went AWOL. They would be able to help him.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on June 26, 2015:

@Brian: Did you receive a DD214? Probably not if you went AWOL. You have no benefits as of right now. You are AWOL. With any benefit you will need to provide proof of service and right now you can't. You can't say or prove you are on active duty, and you can't say or prove you served because you did not receive a DD214.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on June 26, 2015:

@a: Not sure. There are several things that may have happened or are going to happen. Best advice, call the installation where you went AWOL from to see what your status is. You can call to find out what they are doing or going to do.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on June 26, 2015:

@Anonymus7: Why would you use your NG Military ID Card. If your husband is active duty you should have a dependent ID card. Use the dependent ID Card.

Most NG units do not bother with the AWOL procedures. You are not Federal when you are in the National Guard, unless on Title 10. It has been a few years, but last time I knew when a soldier goes AWOL from a NG unit the NG unit tries to contact them. After so many failed attempts they just kick him or her out.

I would call the NG S1 Unit and see what your status is. It wouldn't hurt to call and ask.

Anonymus7 on June 06, 2015:

I went AWOL from the national guard 8mths ago. I currently live on a military base with my husband and children. My husband got one of the gate MPs to put a block on my Driver Liscense so I am able to drive on and off post using just my DL without anything popping up. Note: I live one one of the largest military bases in a different state than I went AWOL from. My question is, if I go to the commissary here on the military instillation and scan my Military ID when checking out, will I still be able to shop there without getting in trouble? My Military ID expires in about 8mths from now.

a on June 02, 2015:

I am awol from ait. They were chaptering me out. Chapter 11, and I left. What do you think will happen?

Brian on May 27, 2015:

If you have completed your first term of enlistment of 4 years, reenlisted and then went AWOL, are you still able to receive GI BILL and VA loans based on completing the first term under good conditions?

Dana kiptoo on March 02, 2015:

I think my husband went awol after being in bct. He went to fort lee for ait and just beforw he came home he was saying he didn't want to be married anymore. Well I found out he meet a women in ait. But he dont want to do weekend drills and he freaks out on everybody. Who do I call to get him help

anonymous on February 20, 2015:

My son went awol Jan 20th, 2015 from Fort Hood, Tx

He is a good kid and he chose to go awol. I'm not sure why cause he won't talk to me. He just said it was doing his head in and it was driving him crazy. I'm so stressed out and hurt over this . I'd like to know what will happen to him if he don't turn himself in or if they catch him?

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on November 17, 2014:

Any military base.

Dude on November 14, 2014:

I need to report where do I do that

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on October 26, 2014:

It's hard to say many are determined on a case by case basis. I would call the MP station or the unit to find out.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on October 26, 2014:

I would call the MP station of base where you went AWOL to find an answer to this question.

@SingleMom on October 20, 2014:

hey i was wondering i am a single mom i went awol after being raped and going to court over it i was pregnant with twins when i went to court i lost one of the babies and everything on top of every i couldn't take it no more! i left! my question is can i get a plane ticket to take my son to his grandmothers so i can get everything settled in before i turn my self in i have been awol for a year and 3 month! or will i get arrested at the airport?

173rd vet on October 18, 2014:

I know of a female who was a lower enlisted soldier, whom had only been to her first unit for a few months, then she had went awol in may 2011. She was arrested in by the local authorities and was given 2 days to get back to fort Irwin California. She returned only to leave again without permission just a few weeks later. She has had a background check through income based housing, the same apartment housing she lives in to this day. Nothing came up about the awol/desertion in the beginning 2013. She has not had any paperwork though sent to her. Would she be wanted, or just other then honorably discharged?

Matt on October 07, 2014:

Well I got experience of having an OTH for AWOL. I was so excited to join the Army and was sent to FLW in early 2010 and was halfway through BCT when I got injured with stress fractures and could not run. Ended up on profile and then got 3 weeks con leave. I went back after con leave and after about 4 weeks was sent to PTRP unit to heal and hopefully get back into training. I started with some back pain that kept getting worse and they carried out an MRI and I was then diagnosed with spinal arthritis and a tear in spinal cord which was not Army related but the military was what brought out the symptoms. I was told that it was an automatic medical discharge. So now all my hard work was for nothing and my home situation was rather bad. My Father in law passed away and my wife was left at home with a 17 month old son and pregnant with our second. She had no family around for support or help. Nobody was there who could help. She was booked in for an induction for the baby on a certain date in Novemeber and I was constantly being messed around about being allowed to go home then not allowed then allowed again. Then PTRP to hide their fail rate numbers started sending people back to their BCT units. It came to the point where she was going into hospital to have a baby and nobody at all was there for looking after our son. Foster care would have happened no doubt. So I went AWOL to be there for the birth and look after my son. Of course the drill sgt's told everybody in med board that I had fled the country and had a warrant out for arrest and was going to prison. Typical Army lies to manipulate. I had spoke to a relative who was a senior officer in the Army and even he said in my shoes he would have done the same and he told me what would happen. I will never be sorry for putting my kids first over being sat in a med board unit for months and months on end waiting to be discharged.

After 4 weeks I believe it was, a warrant was put out and within 2 hours of that, the police came to our home. I was not there but I handed myself in that afternoon to them and spent 7 days in county jail. It was humiliating and a terrible experience. After 7 days my recruiter SGT of all people came and got me and he took me to the airport and waited till I boarded my flight to FT.Knox. From there I was collected by an MP who was very professional and decent with me. I was transported in a prison van inside a cage to Knox and then booked in. Later booked into the section for AWOL soldiers and the staff were fantastic. They were very good people. Got to my bunk at 3am and up again at 5am and was there from that Friday night till the following Friday. I received an OTH in lieu of court martial. From then, only one person I was " friends " with would even speak to me. I had local shame in my community. However once people knew why, it was different. It is now 4 years on and I carry a lot of shame for it. I regret my actions but it was either that or my child in foster care. A very difficult situation. What also makes it different is that I am a British citizen. I made our life very tough for a few months. At one stage we had to go to a food bank just to survive. I lost my families health care, income and I lost any hope of benefits. There is not a day that passes where I do not regret my actions. Since then I have managed to turn my life around. We moved to the UK, I am at University and also run a small business. I am not so sure it would have worked out with an OTH in America. I cut all contact with everybody in America due to my AWOL episode. I have read countless posts on various sites about how it's not a big deal and life does go on with an OTH. It may do but the shame and the regret is a huge burden. I have paid over and over in my mind for it. I know I did right for my family but plain and simple, it was wrong and it is not who I am and that is why it hurts so much. If I could give one bit of advice to any soldier thinking of going AWOL. Don't do it. Guilt has destroyed me over it. I always think what if. If her Father had not died it would never have happened. But that is life.

mshields on September 19, 2014:

My son was in army done basic training after school served a year in Afghanistan came home done several months going to his once a month training / work and all of a sudden he had failed a drug test . There was talk of getting kicked out of the army . Then one month he just stopped going . We have warned him that it's not a god thing to do no calls from his recruiter or sergeant none to them . What could happen to him he's moved out since then married and starting a good life etc but I worry

awol7yrs on June 16, 2014:

I've been awol 7yrs now, I've been arrested by local police,had background checks run for jobs even told them I did serve in army, and even filled federal tax return. My contract with the army ended in 2009 and I went awol in 2007, they called all my family and friends looking for me in the first few months than just stopped, my question is why haven't I been detained for going awol? And can I return to the army and serve again or will I just go to jail?

Anthony on June 02, 2014:

I am in the army reserve, since 2011, i stopped going to drill 5 months ago, and i wanted to if everything everyone is saying also affects me or is that just for active duty soldiers. What is the punishment for reserves that stop going to drill. Oh and i wanted to go on vacation to another country, will my passport have a warrant or say i am awol? Please help

Anonymous GF on May 16, 2014:

I have a question that I really need the answer to. My boyfriend was in the army and he was stationed in Seattle. During this time he got into some trouble with some guys and ended up serving 4 years in prison. He is now in North Carolina and has graduated college and has a decent job. He gets home the other night and the police had been to his parents house with papers for his arrest. We don't know why or what is going on and it's driving me nuts. He turned himself in that same night and he is being held until he is transferred. What do you think will happen and why is this going on?

Richard on March 15, 2014:

Was in basic training in '97 when the Honorable Bill Clinton was the Commander in chief. After 2 weeks all the privates were sent home for Christmas break. Came back to duty station in " Ft Sill" and 50% of my unit was AWOL! No battle buddy nothing. The rest of our unit went AWOL 2 days later. After 30 days we were all labeled " Deserters". I got an " OTH Discharge" and was told that this discharge means diddly squat! Remember u are not a soldier until u complete " basic training". Otherwise if u go AWOL/ Desert before basic training is over it means nothing! Put never in military if applying for civil service! Peace out everybody!!!!

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on January 08, 2014:

After receiving one of two options 1) you receive a fine or 2) they said, "You have the right to remain silent..." (keep in mind there is a different version of the Miranda rights for the military...they make you sign a form).

Nik on January 02, 2014:

How will you know if the military is going to press charges on you if you let the soldier stay with you before they turned themselves in?

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on November 30, 2013:

@Sara Pepper...ya! Contact the local PD to let them know you have info about an individual with a federal warrant. If he has a warrant hebmay get picked up.

Else... Call nearest mp station to inform them of location of an WWol Am

Hope that heps!

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on November 30, 2013:

@Nikki not unless you willingly harboerd a federal felon.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on November 30, 2013:

@Anonymous...well u can just not go. It's just state. I don't understand how the shut down affected your ship date. Why? Because the shut down was federal and government officials specifically stated milira would not be affected. If you close not to go they maybecwon't actively choose charges on you scine it's state.

Sara Pepper from El Paso, Texas on November 30, 2013:

I saw this and was very informative but im still a little lost in my own situation. My sons father after we separated never married was stationed in Hawaii not sure which base and has recently within the last month has gone awol. Or so he says. He's now living in town where he was originally stationed (ft. bliss) working here on a side job, we do have contact i do not know physical location only he's living with a military friend. He's being carele and is not seeing the big picture thinking he will not get caught. Im not sure if i should believe he did make a decision like that or if he's out or something. Is there someone or somewhere i can ask to check the status on him... And if he is awol I'm afraid I'll be in trouble since he told me...

Nikki on November 20, 2013:

Will any charges be brought on the soldiers family if they turn themselves in?

Anonymous on November 07, 2013:

So here is my problem. I have served 4 years in the marine corps infantry and was honorably discharged in 2007. I joined the National Guard in Feb, Now I was schedule to go to my MOS school in Oct but this shutdown stopped everything, Now i'm supposed to go in December. Problem is I've got a new job i've been at for a couple weeks with probably the best company i've ever seen. I know regular jobs cant fire you for Drill Duty, but what if your hired through a temp service? This place normally keeps you on as a temp for 3 years until your hired. I'm worried about losing this great oppurtunity with this job due to having to go to school with such a short amount of time in at the job and considering telling my chain of command I won't go. *yes i've already asked them to change the dates and they said no openings, Looking to see what my options are and decide which direction to take.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on July 31, 2013:

@G. RippenYes, turn in any information that may be helpful

G. Rippin on July 31, 2013:

My son went AWOL Dec 2011, stationed originally in Japan, then transferred back to LeJuene, his wife and kids were in Japan when he went for visit in Dec 2011 never returned. He is currently in Japan. Cannot talk him into turning himself in, do I have responsibility to contact Marines and provide any addresses I have for him? I am worried sick for him and his family that one day they will catch up to him and he will never see his wife or kids again. Family here is also worried we will never see him again.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on June 11, 2013:

@Lg1707 just have her go to the nearest military installation. There are many in different countries. Just fly back. If she has a warrant they may pick her up at the airport, but doubtful. Even if she did get pick up she would only be detained until the MPs arrive to picker her up and escort her to the installation where she went AWOL from.

Lg1707 on June 10, 2013:

My gf went awol in 2010 because she was a homosexual and could not be open in the army now she is thinking about turning herself in but is not so sure since she is scared. She is also out of the us and wants to know where she can go to turn herself in? Or can she flight back to the us without being stopped by immigration and the. Turn herself in? Please help

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on May 30, 2013:

@Jane, sorry to hear about your situation. I have seen this exact situation numerous times. I know this is not what you want to hear, but there is a slight silver lining, which is he will be receiving military pay from the time he is in military custody until he is properly discharged or sentenced.

More then likely, he is waiting for his military escort to arrive to escort him to the installation. I am unsure because the last time I dealt with escorts or was involved with coordinating one the military was just allowing soldier to escort themselves to the installation and turn themselves in, so not to sure if this is the case or if he is actually waiting for a military escort to arrive.

He will arrive to the installation and will rejoin his unit to receive a punishment of some sort, that will end in either a dishonorable discharge from the military or a jail sentence of some sort. The punishment is entirely up to the current unit commander.

More then likely, you will hear from him once he is at the installation. Of course, if you feel he is not telling you enough or you do not trust what he is saying you can always contact the Military Police station and ask who is his company commander and then call the commander directly.

Jane on May 30, 2013:

Ive been married for 11 years and was unaware that my husband was awol from the Army before we got married. Thursday 3 police officers showed up and took him, where he spent 1 week in county jail being held until the Army got him a plane ticket and sent him to Fort Knox. He was told to wait at the airport in Ky till 10pm (he arrived at 5pm) and I am waiting to find out what will happen to him. He served 4 years and reenlisted for 2 but left at a month of the 2 year reenlist. For anyone that is Awol out there, do not think this will not catch up to you. This does not only affect you but also your loved ones. You should deal with this while you have an option to turn yourself in for it.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on April 28, 2013:

@elena, The sad fact one. If the paperwork was completed correctly and he is categorized correctly he should have a federal warrant for his arrest, so if he encounters a law enforcement agency for any reason he would be pick-up for the federal warrant plus any other charges. And "if" there is a court order for said support and he has not attempted to pay for 4 years you should contact the state enforcement agency, so they can draw it out of his tax refund. You would, sadly, have more luck with the enforcement agency on receiving any kind of results.

elena on April 24, 2013:

My daughters father has been AWOL for 2 years he was stationed at fort huachuca,AZ his last known location was with his girlfriend in Tucson, AZ i want him located he hasn't paid support in 4 years. Who do i contact to have him apprehended

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on April 15, 2013:


It's a case-by-case basis. It ultimately comes down to what the commander decides to do. Either way he will most like receive some form of punishment may it be extra duty or a more severe punishment, but it's up to the CO and how far he would like to pursue it.

AshKS on April 15, 2013:

I have a friend who went awol.. He told his sergeant that he wanted out of the military due to family issues. He was told no.. He was going to return after 30 days because he would've been dfr'ed by then. However, he decided to go back early. I'm just wondering if the family issues he was dealing with will affect his punishment.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on February 24, 2013:

@debbie....are you asking if the soldier had "amnesia" after he went AWOL, what would happen to them? Well, contrary to popular belief. "Amnesia" , in real-life (i.e. not movies and television), generally doesn't cause a loss of self-identity. An individual suffering from "Amnesia" is typically lucid and know who he or she is, but may have trouble learning new information and forming new memories. Meaning, the individual is aware of one's self, and has no trouble recollecting previous memories or experiences. With this said, an SM would be punished accordingly, unless a medical professional says otherwise.

debbie on February 24, 2013:

What if a soldier has gone awol and cant remember what has happen to them

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on January 04, 2013:

@ Karla, There is really nothing you can do. As long as you are telling his command what you know and any future information they cannot federally charge you with aiding and abiding a felon.

As far as reaching out to your husband...I would assume you would not be able to contact him, but he could contact you. Did he buy the ticket with a debt or credit card ? Did he take a debt or credit card with him; if so has there been any recent activity on any of his cards? Maybe one is a hotel or some sort of shelter you could call.

I can tell you the Military Police or any other federal agency are not actively looking for him; that is what the warrant is for. The unit is right, the unit submits paperwork that changes his duty status, but the change is not instant and 90% of the time the unit does not complete the entire process.

A warrant is not issued until he is gone for a full 30 days. Anything less than the 30 day mark he is considered AWOL.

And it matters if he is active duty or just on title 10 orders.

Hope that helps...let me know if you have any more comments or questions

Karla Cruz on January 04, 2013:

I'm really worried my husband had a week vacation from dec 24 2012 was supposed to return back to is unit jan 1 2013 instead he bought a flight ticket to the Dominican Republic to leave dec 31 2012...He left to that country without telling his sergent but then again my husband call his sergent telling him he had lost all his documents wich is all a lie know I got his sergent and commanders calling me all the time asking me for him his sergent just told me he's AWOL and he has a warrant...I'm really worried.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on November 16, 2012:

@RFWAVELENGTH: Interesting....just choose which federal offense is the is your scale of justice. If you want to spend more time in jail go AWOL and comment identity theft, or you can just turn yourself in and just be processed out of the military, or at a min. a few months in jail. As children we are taught to not lie and to live with the consequences of our actions. Here is a productive message...."If you are AWOL be an adult. You know you did wrong, don't lie, and face the consequences of your actions....simple. " Here is another one for the many who like writing stupid comments like this one..."It's to easy to do the wrong thing, and to hard to do the right thing!"

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on November 16, 2012:

I am answering this 8 days after the fact, sorry if this is to late. I will start by saying I am not surprised the arresting party has next to no information for a few reasons 1) the military, depending on the department, well, the communication plain is near or next to nothing. The arresting party knows only what the federal warrant tells them, and in this unfortunate situation, it tells them your spouse has a federal warrant and needs to be arrested. The arresting party will not allow your spouse to post bond because the military places a hold on service member who are picked-up by any civil authority. Depending on your location (i.e. the distance between where he is held and the nearest military installation) will determine how long he will be in county jail. If you live a considerably long distance away I would assume he would most likely be there for 3-5 days.

Without to much background information on the issue I cannot give exact answers only generalized, but you can get an attorney who specializes in military law or he can receive free legal council when he is presented back to his unit. See, once the military has him they process him back to his original unit where he went AWOL. Then the present commander decides what route to take (i.e. choosing to begin processing him out or taking punitive action). Most of the time, again this is generalizing, the service member is processed and if the commander deems him a flight risk they may place him in what is call "pre-trial confinement" if this happens and a trial does, in fact commence, he may receive punitive action, but they may say dishonorable discharge with time served. I have seen cases like this and most of the time one of two things may happen 1) the commander will choose to keep control of the deserter and process him out or take punitive action with the end result of your spouse spending a few months, a year, or a few years in a federal prison and a dishonorable discharge, or 2) he will be placed in pre-trail confinement and the commander may choose to or take punitive action with the end result of your spouse spending a few months, a year, or a few years in a federal prison and receive a dishonorable discharge.

Keep in mind that while he is in federal custody he is receiving military pay. Once, he is sentenced (if he is even sentenced) the pay will stop. Once he is discharged the pay will stop.

I hope this helps in any way. If you have any questions or something is unclear fill free to ask.

RFWAVELENGTH on November 16, 2012:

There are ways to do it right. First of all, your fingerprints will have to be permanently removed. This can be don with sandpaper and a mild acid solution. Then, a new identity will have to be established. Get supporting documents so that you can obtain a driver's license under an assumed name. Illegal immigrants to this all of the time. It will be tough to leave your family, friends and your entire past life behind, but it is what needs to be done if you are to do this right.

Bradleytlee on November 10, 2012:

I'm writing in desperation. My partner of 4 years was arrested at our home Thursday night, the 8th. This was before we met and he told me and his family he was medically discharged for migraines and depression. He was 20/21 years old at the time and still in the closet. He was also a prescription drug addict seeking help, which is the reason he joined the army. We are shocked and not sure what to do. All the county police department says they can tell us is he has no bond, the military police will be coming to transport him, but they can't tell me when that will take place or where they'll be taking him. We've been told to hire an attorney that specializes in military, and we also been told he can be appointed an attorney. Nobody has spoken to him since they came for him which was almost 48 hours ago. Please help me. He is a good man, who made a very stupid decision, without thinking of the very serious consequences. Anything you may be able to suggest or offer is greatly, greatly appreciated. His name is Sean. Thank you.

Very sincerely,

Brad Lee

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on October 18, 2012:

You could try, but they may see it. I am not sure. If you have been stopped by the police you have not been listed as DFR, but it does not mean you have not been listed as AWOL. Meaning, there is still an open case pertaining to your AWOL status.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on October 18, 2012:

You would have to contact the installation where you went AWOL. Specifically contact their FOIA office and request any records pertaining to the incident. Once you obtain the records review them to see if how they filed the charges and what the disposition was.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on October 18, 2012:

You are correct! This article is from a Military Police law enforcement officers prospective. As with any non-criminal and criminal legal issue I would encourage, and sure hope an individual would seek legal advice before making any a serious decisions (i.e. turning yourself in). I state this many of time in previous responses. Thank you for providing the above mentioned resource. I have reviewed the suggested resource and find it to be a somewhat credible resource. The suggested resource's disclaimer even states: "Important Disclaimer:

1. It is against the law to go AWOL or to remain AWOL.

2. It is against the law to refuse to obey a lawful order to deploy or to miss a movement.

3. This website is of an informational nature and is not intended to provide “legal advice” that would be relevant to a specific situation. Please do your own research (a good place to start is with the links to the military regulations provided on the GI Rights Hotline website) and/or consult an attorney in your area.

4. Following the law might violate your conscience."

So again, it's important to seek legal assistance if you think you are charged or going to be charged with any violations of the US laws.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on October 18, 2012:

I know for Active Army they can no official discharge you without you present.

junior on October 14, 2012:

hi i was in the army i went awal from ait like about 7 years now i bin stopped bye police and even traveled out of the country but i miss the army i want to join again do you think if i talk to a recruiter and start over with out telling them that i was in the army and went awal.

army2020 on October 08, 2012:

? i went awol back in 05 and turned myself in in 09. went back to my unit never got an article 15 or nothing. i got a genral discharge under honerable conditions. is this a felony because i would like to become a police officer some day.

jmbranum from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on October 05, 2012:

With all due respect, this article does not tell the whole story.

Yes, AWOL soldiers should return to military control to get their situations resolved, but they should be prepared for it with good mitigating evidence.

A much more detailed article (written for attorneys and GI Rights counselors but useful to lay people too) on the best way to legally resolve an AWOL can be found at:

Lastly, for any readers out there who are AWOL, please don't believe the lies. There is a hope to get get this behind you and to be free of the Army. Good luck!

Empressive85 on September 28, 2012:

I was in the most ridiculous reserve unit I joined after active duty thinking it would be a good opportunity. They were giving me the run around about my bonus plus I got in a car accident was out of a car could not return to full duty they were uncooperative about my situation so I haven't been back and that was about 4 years ago. I heard that I am DFR. Can they discharge me without me signing any paper work my contract is up in 2013

richard on September 03, 2012:

I just read this. And all I can say is wow. I was awol for 5 years. A warrant was never issued until 3 months ago. I'm back at fort riley getting oth. Best thing to any awol people, turn yourself in. Its not that bad. Just a lot of waiting around to get out processed. Just make sure if you do go to your unit bring money because finance may not pay you. If you are lucky your unit won't want you back and you will go to fort knox or fort sill and be home within a week. If your unit wants you back to discharge you themselves expect a long wait. I've met people who have been here from awol for 5 months waiting to leave.

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on July 18, 2012:

@jbourne & Anonymous

There have been instances where unit commanders never turn the paperwork in or the MPs never received or lost the paperwork, so this is not unheard of. There is usually not going to be any record of you, or shouldn't be. If there is it might come back on you...not sure. It is safe to say if you are working as a ofc. then you are more then likely good to go. There will be no DD 214 you did not exit the military properly, so the proper paperwork could not be generated. As far as, a discharge...more then likely it is OTH, or nothing at all.

Anonymous on July 18, 2012:

I went AWOL 5 years ago and since then have held multiple local & state government jobs including my current job as a police officer. I'm not sure if the paperwork got lost or my commander never reported it but i know my contract would have ran out last year anyway so I'm hoping it never catches up to me. If it does then oh well it was meant to be, just hope I don't get locked up with people ive arrested...

jbourne on July 11, 2012:

I enlisted in 2005, finished Infantry Basic, Airborne, and then went to my assigned unit. After a week of processing, I was assigned to my particular unit, and then went AWOL 3 days later. Total time was roughly 5.5 months in service.I had a lot of personal stuff going on, and basically ran away from the Army.

I received a number of calls from my NCO but never answered. It was kind of an "out of sight, out of mind" situation for me.

My entire unit was deployed to assist with hurricane Katrina except a dozen people or so when I arrived for in-processing. When my Battalion Commander returned from New Orleans, roughly 30 days after I had left, he left a voice mail saying I had been dropped from rolls, and that my paperwork would be sent through the AWOL process, and that I would have a warrant for my arrest.

I lived in fear for a while. IN 2010, when my 5 year contract was to be up, I received a letter from the DOD saying my healthcare had been dropped since I was no longer active duty. It was dated the day after my ETS date. I found that rather interesting.

I have been pulled over once, no problems. I have passed a number of back ground checks, and still nothing. I have even volunteered with the local PD since then, having gone through a poly graph ( I denied being in the armed services), and back ground investigation. I have contacted the Archives center requesting any paperwork on my self. The only paperwork they have on file, is my physical paperwork from MEPS, and nothing from basic or my assigned unit. Its's as if I was never enlisted.

Is it possible I received an OTH or Admin discharge? But wouldn't the archives center have that on file? Do you get any paperwork, or a DD-214 for an OTH or Admin discharge?

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on July 09, 2012:

@MJC thank you for your

comments and sharing your story.

MJC on July 09, 2012:

People these days think they can choose their own consequences. My sister has gone AWOL and nobody can find her...she wanted to join the army, my brother has been in the army for years, and told her not to, many people told her not to, but she wanted to, so went ahead. She told us that "she has the right to choose what she does in this life, and nobody can tell her otherwise...blah blah blah." I tried explaining to her that she is right, she does, but she does not have the right to choose her own consequences. She made the choice to join, now must deal with the consequences. People really need to grow up!

James Wassinger (author) from Untied States on July 03, 2012:

Before you go to the local police department or sheriffs office to complete a background check call Fort Hood's AWOL Apprehension team (or the nearest military installation), and ask them if the government is tracking a warrant on you. I used to receive calls like this we would check the name, and if there was a warrant out we would make travel arrangements for them to come in. 99% of the time they would, but there was still the 1% who chose not to.

JD on July 03, 2012:

I joined active duty Army when i was 18 (female) and i first went AWOL when i was in AIT and two weeks later they picked me up from my parents house and i went back into AIT got a article 15 and a fine then when i finished AIT and was stationed at fort hood i immediately left went AWOL again and have not been gone now for 8 years. I think i have gotten away with it because i did not move back to my home state and have not been in contact with my family or anyone in the army and i got married had my last name changed and have not held a job since leaving the Army. Before i proceed i want to say that at 18 i think that is a huge decision to make at the time not knowing anything about the military except the lies my recruiter told me. I mean how many people have done stupid thoughtless things when they were young and wish they didn't? I'm sick of all the judgmental people on the internet saying how you are a piece of crap now. I have never done drugs or criminal acts i am a christian i help out with charities and i'm a good wife and because i signed up to help out my country and realizing this was not for me come to find out i am now a slave to the government and i have all my rights taken away and i'm suddenly wanted? but the army doesn't have to be honest or hold up there end of the contract. I have met soldiers who signed up for one MOS and the army decided they were going to change there MOS. If you don't like it, tough! Can't leave if you don't like the job. That sounds like slavery, but i still support the soldiers, respect there sacrifices and love my country. Now enough ranting... i recently decided i want to go back to school and become a nurse (or be in the medical field) in life and my husband and me would like to adopt a child BUT... i would have to get a background check to do both things and i'm afraid i might have a warrant or something. I'm starting to feel like my life is ruined.

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