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NEWS | Feb. 8, 2016

So you have a complaint

By Dave Hunt, director JB Charleston Complaints Resolution

Inspectors General have a long history in the United States military services. The first Inspector General was appointed by General George Washington in 1778. While the duties of the IG have certainly expanded over the years, our prime focus is to serve as an extension of the commander by acting as his/her eyes and ears being alert to issues affecting the organization. One of the methods we use to accomplish this is through the IG Complaints Resolution process. Through this process the IG assists Airmen, family members, civilian employees, retirees and other civilians in solving issues affecting them or their ability to successfully complete the mission.
For the IG to effectively resolve complaints, all personnel must understand they have unrestricted access to the IG. Title 10 USC § 1034, commonly referred to as the "Whistleblower Protection Act" states no one may restrict an individual's access to the IG or retaliate against anyone, in any way, for bringing an issue to the IG or their congressman.  This ensures people have the freedom to speak up about wrongs without fear of retaliation.   Sounds simple enough but what are reprisal and restriction? 

Air Force Instruction (AFI) 90-301 defines restriction as "preventing or attempting to prevent members of the Armed Forces from making or preparing to make lawful communications to members of Congress and/or an IG."   The AFI states "Restriction may be communicated by a variety of means (e.g., verbal, written policy, regulation, order, procedure, counseling or public statement) and creates a "chilling effect."  In other words, any actions that would tend to prevent an individual(s) from communicating or attempting to communicate with members of Congress and/or an IG is considered Restriction. 

Reprisal is defined as "taking or threatening to take an unfavorable personnel action or withholding or threatening to withhold a favorable personnel action on a military member for making or preparing to make a protected communication."   A Protected Communication (PC) is ANY communication made to a member of Congress or an IG.  Additionally, a PC is created when a member reports anything the he or she reasonably believes is a wrong-doing to anyone in their chain of command, chiefs, first sergeants, inspectors and auditors.

All reports of reprisal or restriction must be investigated by the Inspector General's office with oversight and direction from the Headquarters Air Mobility Command IG Office, the Secretary of the Air Force IG, and the Department of Defense IG.  This process ensures members of the military community can confidently present their concerns to the Inspector General without fear of retaliation.  Although members should attempt to resolve issue at the lowest level, the IG office is available to provide assistance.  These same rights apply to government civilian employees as well. However, government civilians file their complaints directly with the DoD IG office.  The IG office can assist civilians in filing complaints.  If you have questions or need further clarification, please contact us.  The Joint Base Charleston IG office is located on the second floor of building 246, at 205 S. Davis Dr. and our phone numbers are 843-963-3552 and 843-963-5036.