A field grade ranking officer stepped down because he is disappointed with his leaders at the U.S. Marine Corps on Aug. 29.
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller resigned just days after expressing dissatisfaction with what he called a tactless withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
“I could stay in the Marine Corps for another three years but I do not think that is the path I am on,” he said in a video shared on Facebook. “I am resigning my commission as a U.S. Marine, effective now.”
Scheller revealed he is completely aware that his shock decision will forgo a $2 million Veterans Affairs pension and other benefits of serving the nation for 17 years.
“I am forfeiting retirements, all entitlements,” he can be heard saying. “I do not want a single dollar, any money from the VA, any VA benefits [even though] I am sure I am entitled 100 percent,” he said.
The officer previously demanded that his senior leaders be held accountable for the Islamic State bombing attack at Kabul Airport that killed 13 U.S. servicemen on Aug. 26.
“I have been fighting for 17 years, I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders [that] I demand accountability,” he said in a video that went viral on the internet.
The following day he was relieved of command according to Fox News. Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger defended the decision and claimed Scheller should have handled his emotions in a more internal manner.
“There is a forum in which Marine leaders can address their disagreements with the chain of command but it is not social media,” he said according to the broadcaster.
Scheller maintains he was still an active Marine even though he was relieved of command, at least until he formally resigned.
He felt compelled to act after reading a LinkedIn comment that inspired him to finalize his decision to leave. The comment in question suggested he should resign “if he was honorable.”
The Marine Corps has not acknowledged shortcomings in the Afghanistan operation, even though they were more extreme than leaders originally anticipated.
“I am not saying we can take back what has been done,” Scheller said. “All I asked for was accountability, for people to comment on what I said and to say, ‘Yes, mistakes were made.'”
He believes there is no shame in admitting the mission was not a complete success.
“I think them accepting accountability would do more for service members with post traumatic stress disorder, and struggling with purpose than any other transparent piece of paper or message,” he said. “I have not received that.”
He also rejected any suggestion that he does not love his country or the Marine Corps. He is simply concerned that stability and money can turn an individual into a “slave to the system.”
“It can make you compromise what you truly believe in,” he said.
He urged everyone who supports him to show solidarity.
“I do not need a single dollar, I just need every single person that is willing to go back outside the wire every single day to wear a blue-collar,” he said. “Just go into work every single day and feed their families, those are the people that I need.”
Scheller also announced he was resigning his commission today and forfeiting all future benefits for his family. pic.twitter.com/itFHVKOSpv— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) August 29, 2021