Iraq deployment

Spc. Ryan Cover with members of the Iraqi army during his deployment in 2011. Army officials discharged Cover earlier this month for drunken driving prior to his conviction.

Courtesy photo

BELTON — The U.S. Army was finished with Spc. Ryan M. Cover before he pleaded guilty.

Cover had signed on for three years in the service to help pay for college. He did a tour in Iraq in 2011 and was slated for an honorable discharge at the end of April.

That plan evaporated Dec. 2 when police arrested Cover for driving drunk, a crime he admitted in court when he pleaded guilty March 8.

But two days before his plea, the Army already kicked Cover out, issuing him a general discharge. The decision by Cover’s chain of command to release him from service before the crime had been officially proved in court may mark a change in Army policy stemming from an ongoing drawdown in forces, according to several defense attorneys.

“You kick people out because you don’t need them anymore,” said Belton attorney John Galligan, Cover’s lawyer. “It’s pathetic.”

Trimming the fat

The Army is working to shrink its active-duty force to 490,000 soldiers. As of mid-January, troop levels hovered around 540,000, said Department of the Army spokesman George Wright.

The official response from Fort Hood and the Pentagon is that the Army is not seeking to remove from the ranks soldiers who have been charged with crimes in a more expeditious manner because of the force reduction.

“If we look at this in the framework of how we manage the discipline and all that, I would not be quick to affirm the notion that we are cracking down on people to get to where we need to go,” Wright said.

Army officials are reducing troops largely through attrition and less recruitment.

“They can’t get there with voluntary attrition, so it’s involuntary,” said Temple attorney Michael White. “They can still use that as not allowing them to re-enlist.”

Needs of war

White said he has seen things change greatly in the past three years. At the height of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers accused — and even convicted — of misdemeanor crimes were allowed to stay in the service.

Officials gave them the ability to re-enlist by seeking morality waivers. Those most often occurred in misdemeanor cases but even happened in a few rare felony cases, usually involving statutory rape, White said.

Galligan said the Army would not act quickly either. If a soldier had an impending deployment, the post would be willing to look the other way, for years, if necessary.

“The chain of command was very supportive of these guys because they were all going to Afghanistan,” Belton attorney Kurt Glass said.

Other attorneys also have seen what appears to be a zero-tolerance policy in the past several months in regard to cases involving drugs, alcohol and domestic violence.

The decision to take administrative action against a soldier is largely up to his chain of command, according to a statement from Fort Hood.

Options available to a commander include taking action prior to any conviction or adjudication of a charge.

“Commanders in this position initiate the process based on the misconduct, not on whether the soldier is convicted,” according to the statement.

Commanders can base those decisions on whether the allegations of misconduct make a soldier suitable for continued service or affect the morale of other soldiers.


For Cover, the decision to take administrative action against him eliminated his ability to have the government assist in paying for a college education.

An arrest affidavit stated Cover had been out driving on Fort Hood Street about 3:30 a.m. Dec. 2 when his car was involved in a collision. Police found his car parked in a lot in the 3200 block of South Fort Hood Street with body damage and a flat tire.

An officer believed Cover was intoxicated and arrested him. A breath test later showed his blood alcohol content was 0.146, well above the legal limit, the affidavit stated.

Cover said it was an isolated incident, and that he had never been in any legal trouble prior to this incident.

The Army placed him in drug and alcohol counseling. As he neared completion, the Army abruptly pulled him out, he said, which allowed his commanding officers to mark in his paperwork that he had not sought treatment, because he never completed the course.

His attorney learned the Army decided to take administrative action against Cover about a month after the incident, before he had any pre-trial hearings.

Galligan sent a letter to Cover’s unit, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, but never received a response, he said.

In his letter, Galligan told Cover’s command they acted prematurely. He argued that under military regulations, Cover should have been given an opportunity to prove himself.

Instead, the Army pulled him from his substance abuse course March 5. On March 6, it discharged him. He pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated March 8 and received a $100 fine.

Moving on

Cover is now in Lubbock, staying with his girlfriend. He said he is not sure what he will do now.

Because of the nature of his discharge, the past three years and his tour in Iraq will not likely be something he can use to pursue a job. And without the G.I. Bill, his opportunities to further his education are limited.

“It’s like I didn’t even do anything these past three years,” Cover said.

The entirety of the situation has made Cover contemptuous. He said in the end, post officials treated him as though he had “committed murder.”

“I tell any private you’d have a better life going to school,” he said.

Contact Philip Jankowski at or (254) 501-7553

(37) comments


Thank you for your insight on this matter. Given your extensive service in the Army you seem to be well rehearsed in the way things should operate within a unit and how commanders are to conduct their day to day operations. It is just a shame that some and not all are disciplined in the same fashion. If everyone were disciplined the same way for the same offense this would not even be an issue. You say that miscreants are not allowed to serve in the ranks? What a joke. There are miscreants serving all over this world! I guess these commanders who got away with multiple offenses were under the command of those weak-kneed,limp wristed, hand holding leaders that you referred to in your last statement. Lucky for them I guess. Not so lucky for this country. Maybe things were different when you served, but as I see it as an outsider looking in, the Army is failing it's soldiers. I read about soldiers taking their own life everyday. 22 per day to be exact. Why doesn't the Army do more to help these soldiers? Instead they are so worried about kicking people out so that they can reach their bottom number being dictated to them by this country's government. This particular case is one in a million. This is a huge problem for the Army as I am sure it has always been. We can comment and give our opinions all we want, but it does not change the fact that the Army is failing at keeping these issues under control. Only after the fact, when they are forced to react does something get done. Maybe a little proactive approach would work better.


Some of the primary functions and responsibilities of leadership are to train Soldiers to fight and survive in combat and maintain the good order and discipline of their units. These things go hand in hand.
Accordingly, it is wildly inappropriate to have a Soldier in the ranks who has committed a serious offense present in the ranks, without disciplinary action being imposed. Nor is it appropriate to sympathize with criminals.
Decisions as to how to address these incidents of indiscipline can be difficult, and are sometimes driven by circumstances. For example, normally, commanders are restrained from imposing UCMJ action against Soldiers pending a trial by civilian authority, as the commander cannot duplicate punishment imposed for the same offense. Therefore, this option was not available to Mr. Cover’s commander as I understand it, meaning that Mr. Cover could NOT have been fined, put on restriction, assigned extra duty, or reduced in rank by his commander. This leaves a miscreant in the ranks, unpunished, for all to see. This is prejudicial to good order and discipline and not acceptable.
Further, administrative measures such as a Bar to Reenlistment are administrative in nature, and are NOT punishment. Additionally, a Bar to Reenlistment does not change the characterization of service of the accused, allowing him to exit service without punishment of any kind, with an Honorable Discharge, for his admitted offense. This is wildly inappropriate and unacceptable.
The truth here is that Mr. Cover benefitted greatly from circumstances, and got off easy. He was not punished significantly and was allowed to depart the Army with his rank and pay basically intact. The fact that Mr. Cover served in Iraq is irrelevant; thousands of others have done so with honor and distinction and not committed these kinds of offenses upon their return.
More truth here is that Mr. Cover did this to himself and he deserves what he has received. The same circumstances that protected him from significant UCMJ action resulted in his separation for misconduct and a General Discharge, which he earned with his crime.
The most important issue at hand is the example set by this incident. Commanders cannot allow Soldiers to commit these offenses, go unpunished, or get a pass because their ETS date is imminent or because of their service overseas. These issues are not relevant to the offense, but may be considered as matters of extenuation or mitigation. The chain of command acted in good faith and took action to ensure that this offense was addressed quickly and the proper command tone was set by separating Mr. Cover for his crime.
Frankly, the problem of indiscipline is created by weak-kneed, limp-wristed, hand-holding “leaders” who allow these “woe-is-me” tales to sway their already dubious judgment in favor of destroying good order and discipline in order to give Soldiers a break. Leadership is not a popularity contest, and there’s no room for being “nice”. That gets men killed in combat. Leaders are required to enforce the standards, and the Army always has problems when leadership strays from this maxim.


One of the FEW that have redeployed and drove drunk? I think you need to read the Fort Hood Sentinel Justice Served section. There are more than just a FEW. I highly recommend everyone read the Justice served section of the Fort Hood Sentinel to get a clear picture of just how many problems are plaguing one of the largest military bases in the world. Obviously, there is a serious disconnect between commanders and their soldiers. As far as some of the comments made about disregarding this man's service to his country, I think shows the REAL problem in the Army. You think that soldiers are not humans and that you can just dispose of them at your convenience without any regard to what they have been through. People, humans make mistakes and this mistake did not warrant ruining his future. To quote John: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". John 8:7


I think you need to stop telling me what to do. I dislike arrogance. I read the papers; I know what is going on. I don't need you or your counsel to remain informed. Further, it is clear that these incidents are a fraction of the thousands who have served and continue to do so without disciplinary issues-thus my comments. These issues have always been here at Fort Hood and are a product of the large population here. There is no "disconnect" between the leaders and the troops-the leaders are obliged to do their jobs when their subordinates commit offenses. Don't ever tell me what I think-you aren't qualified. Deployment is no longer an excuse for this behavior-thousands have done so and this no longer makes you special. Soldiers are expected to maintain standards and that's that. You want to listen to their sniveling and whiney butt excuses and make allowances for them-people like you get men killed in combat. As for your arrogant biblical finger wagging-I served 24 years, 3 months and 19 days in the Army and NEVER ONCE DROVE DRUNK. Dismissed.


I agree that the KDH story is one-sided, in SPC Clover's favor. But in this discussion, something not discussed, but very relevant, is that the Army had a range of options to punish SPC Clover. The fact that SPC Clover brought this on himself, by driving drunk, is of course, the truth. On the other hand, the concept (never spoken but implied) that the Army was obligated to throw the book at him or else it would have let him off the hook is wrong.
SPC Clover could have been fined, barred to re-enlistment, put on restriction, extra duty, busted in rank, all of the above, and in general the Army could have made his life miserable for the remaining 6 weeks of his enlistment. As noted his ETS was in April 2013. All that would have been a proper punishment. The choices available were not limited to throwing him out or let him get away with it.
Prior to imposing punishment, SPC Clover's service dodging bullets in Iraq should have been considered. Far from irrelevent, it should have been weighed heavily in his favor. It is fairness. The future consequences to throwing him out (denied and restriced Veterans Benefits, dificulity getting employment, etc) should have been considered. Likewise, the fact that no one was hurt should be weighed evenly with the fact that someone could have been killed. Both circumstances deserve consideration.
The bottom line is good order and disclipine. How was good order and discipline furthured by throwing him out, as opposed to waiting 6 weeks?
He was guilty and needed punishment. His future did not have to be taken away unless it furthered good order and disclipine.


The bottom line is good order and discipline. Given the fact he would only have been in the Army for an additional 6 weeks, the question is how would less severe punishment and allowing him to ETS have adversely affected good order and discipline vs. how was good order and discipline furthered by throwing him out?


He would have ETSd with an inappropriate REUP Code.


Until the court acted, no UCMJ action could be taken, as I understand the rules. Until the court imposes punishment, commanders normally hold UCMJ to avoid the duplication of punishment. SPC Cover should not receive any special consideration for his service in Iraq-he is one of thousands. He is one of the few who redeployed and drove drunk. The commander chose to process a CH 14 discharge for commission of a serious offense.


Pardon me, but why is telling the truth considered arrogant? I am not saying that the actions carried out by this soldier were in anyway right.I am simply stating that based on prior dwi cases, commanders have looked the other way. Which you say is morallly wrong. The laws need to apply to any and all offenders, not just the ones that the Army feels like prosecuting. I once took a very long flight next to a Major serving at Fort Hood and believe me when I say, I was shocked to learn about the practices of Fort Hood commanders. So, before you personnally attack me for being arrogant, please know that my facts are from first hand accounts that come from within your Army. They are not just my uninformed bias opinion.


It is no uninformed bias. It is called the truth.


If you are referring to me Bubba, I was not referring to any one situation. I am referring to the hundreds of infractions committed by soldiers that are swept under the carpet with no disciplinary actions like the ones referred to in prior comments. I guess it is okay if you are an officer and drive drunk, but if a soldier of a lower rank, who serves the same as an officer, gets a dwi they get kicked out.
So, do not be so quick to dismiss the truth.


Do not attempt to direct my actions. I don't work for you.

I wrote earlier that no one should escape discipline when they commit offenses. I think this is perfectly clear.

Again, if you have a beef with what has happened, the Inspector General is available.


This is a sad and unfortunate situation for all parties involved. The bottom line here is that the Army picks and chooses who they will punish and who they will not punish. There are soldiers still serving that have committed far more serious offenses. The statement made in a prior comment about zero tolerence apparently only pertains to certain people. What this soldier needed was help and instead of taking care of their own the Army made the decision to be done with him before getting him the help he needs. So if anyone should be ashamed of themselves it should be the commanders of this soldier and the many, many soldiers that are falling into the same pattern. The Army needs to open their eyes and look at the bigger picture. Everyone is responsible for their own actions, but these commanders, in my opinion, need to do more in preparing these soldiers for the life in the military. Stop tossing our soldiers out to the streets after you feel you no longer need their service. No matter if they are a Pvt. or a Colonel they served their country and deserve to be treated fairly. So, now our country has another veteran of war fighting to survive thanks in part to the decisons of the Army to ruin any chances of him getting a decent job. Shame on you.


No it isn't. The individual did this to himself through his indiscipline. If you have a beef with how other cases have been addressed, see the Inspector General. Or the Chaplain. The accused was treated fairly. Very fairly. If the accused now has limited opportunities for civilian employment, the culprit is in his mirror.


The bottom line is that your comments do not reflect my experiences and reflect your uninformed bias.


However, Mr. Cover has options. He is free to seek substance abuse counseling and vocational counseling and training from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA).

He is free to apply for service-connected disability compensation from the DVA for his service, particularly in Iraq.

If Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the source of his alcohol-related incident, he is free to seek treatment from the DVA.

He is free to apply for an entitlement under the Post 9-11 GI Bill, regardless of his discharge characterization, and allow the Department of Veterans Affairs determine his eligibility for same.

He is free to apply for other counseling service and employment assistance from the DVA.

Additionally, he is free to apply the Army Review Boards Agency, 251 18th Street South, Suite 385, Arlington, VA 22202-3531 to seek a review of his discharge characterization.

Instead of sitting around whining about how unfairly he was treated by the Army for drunk driving, perhaps Mr. Cover’s lawyer will share these avenues with his client that he might seek relief.

In closing, this article attempted to paint the Army as the evil bad guy in the fate of Mr. Cover, glossing over his serious misconduct in the civilian community that could have cost lives. Perhaps in the future, such articles, that smack more of agenda than truth, will not be published in our local paper.

Mamma Griz

Frankie, I first saw Camp Hood in August 1948 and have had ties to this area since then-- my dad retired 3 months after it became Fort Hood. I remember Senior NCOs getting a slap on the wrist and everything was OK then. Camp Hood was calm and collected compared to Fort Hood now.


And the Army no longer tolerates alcohol and drug related incidents.

Mamma Griz

Bubba, if the Army was embarrassed about that one DWI they must be thoroughly embarrassed about Fort Hood.


Please. Spare m.



Mamma Griz

Bubba, how much actual knowledge of the shooting incident do you know?

Oh, and the Army was embarrased about one DWI incident? I guess if it was the first one that ocurred it might be embarrasing. But that one incident isn't the first one that ocurred. There have been drunk soldiers, driving drunk, destroying property, for YEARS in this neck of the woods. I just wonder if you are new to this neck of the woods-- you sound like it.

The Army wasn't embarrased about the shooting incident? An incident like that doesn't happen every day or every month-- not like a DWI.


I was on Fort Hood that day, in 1CD HQ, a short distance away. Not that this is any of your business. I have followed the case closely. Further, I have been the Legal NCO. I don't understand your rambling about embarrassment; I will chock it up to your ignorance of military law.


I signed into Fort Hood on 10 Oct 1980 the first time, then departed to other assignments. I have been back since 1998. Spare me your arrogance.


I've lived in Killeen/ Fort Hood for more than 15 years- and I have seen MANY E7-E9's allowed to retire with no adverse actions to their careers or rank after being arrested for DUI/DWI. We can talk about the III Corps E8 that ran his car through the former Sizzler buffet (now a Chinese place) on FM440. We can talk about CSM Coleman, there are probably about a dozen that got away with it because of the buddy-buddy club (or is it the Masons)? I don't defend this SPC for his action... but now that the bar has been set, let's not let ANYONE get away with a FIRST TIME drug positive or alcohol incident!!


Allowing Soldiers of any rank to escape disciplinary action for their criminal conduct, wherever committed, is legally and morally wrong.


You spill a good story,Bubba. After examination I think you are on target. Good job.


This is a very unfair and slanted article. Mr. Cover now finds himself returned to the civilian world because of his own criminal conduct in the local community. The United States Army has a zero tolerance for alcohol-related incidents, specifically Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). The fact that this offense occurred off-post is not relevant to the fact that this conduct subjected Mr. Cover to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and administrative separation under the provisions of Army Regulation 635-200, Chapters 13 (Unsatisfactory Performance) and 14 (Pattern of Misconduct). Mr. Cover’s motivation for enlisting in the United States Army, and his subsequent loyal and meritorious service in Iraq are also not relevant to the fact that on December 2, 2012, Mr. Cover was involved in a vehicle accident, while intoxicated, causing property damage. Luckily, apparently no one was seriously injured or killed in this incident.
The Army didn’t “kick out” Mr. Cover. He did this to himself by virtue of his criminal actions. He subjected himself to separation. The inference that this action was driven or accelerated by the looming personnel drawdown is ludicrous nonsense. The Army has, over the last 60 years, increased and decreased its size and composition by using accession and attrition tools to do so without resorting to the kind of thing erroneously mentioned in this article.
It is true that during the last period of high Operational Tempo (OPTEMPO), certain personnel received “moral waivers” to enter or remain on active duty. In my view, this action was a grave mistake made by senior Army leaders who have forgotten their experience as Platoon Leaders.
In this specific case, the commander involved was well within his authority to eliminate Mr. Cover from the Army administratively prior to actions by the court, in order to remove a substandard Soldier from his ranks. Further, Mr. Cover probably escaped punishment under the UCMJ as the rules there protected him prior to conviction at civil trial. Frankly, Mr. Cover got over on the system; he should be in jail. Instead, he received a $100 fine? Really? Shame on the judge that made that decision.


Because of this incident, Mr. Cover was undoubtedly command referred to the Army’s substance abuse program. As he did not self refer prior to this criminal act, Mr. Cover’s records were properly and correctly marked that he did not seek treatment, but was command referred. Inferences that this decision was improper or motivated by deceit are incorrect and unfair as such a decision is based solely on whether or not the Soldier is self referred or not, and has nothing to do with the completion of the program, as I understand the rules.
COL(R) Galligan is free to send letters to anyone he wishes; the chain of command is under no obligation to respond. As a former Army officer and Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer, Mr. Galligan should be well aware that Army Regulations empower commanders to maintain order and discipline in their units and are under no obligation to allow probationary periods following the commission of a serious offense prior to administrative separation. His personal opinion is irrelevant.


The Army was obliged to remove Mr. Cover from its substance abuse program on March 5 as he was being separated the next day for his criminal conduct. The Army cannot allow civilians to partake of services dedicated for Soldiers.
As for what Mr. Cover is going to do with himself now, I cannot find any room for sympathy. He is where he is by his own doing, not the Army’s. Frankly, I find his “boo-hoo, woe-is-me” tale insulting. It’s insulting to the thousands of troops on Fort Hood who get up every day and serve their country with pride and distinction, and end their duty day in bed asleep, not out driving drunk in the civilian community, crashing into things. Yet, this miscreant gets an article in the paper, and the loyal, honorable troops are ignored.
It is understandable that Mr. Cover is bitter and dejected following his failure to complete his initial term of service for misconduct. He is now free to say as he pleases, and the Army is better off now without him.


Yes, RHIP....just look at our previous III Corps CSM - CSM Coleman. Busted right by the gate for DUI, and it was swept under the rug and he was forced to retire. No punishment under UCMJ, no proceedings through the city of Killeen. The CG must have pulled in some pretty big markers for that one! The whole chain of command tried to deny that it happened....too many people knew though. Funny that after his retirement he moved to Ft. Bragg, and got busted for DUI the first week he was there.... And yet a young soldier makes the same mistake, looks like for the first time, unlike the chronic problems CSM Coleman had, and he is drummed out of the service.
While I agree that DUI does make the Army look bad, and has no place in our community, and also agree that he got what he deserved, the fact remains that if one has enough rank, and knows enough people in high places, the punishment is not the same.


The Soldier drove drunk in the civilian community, damaging property and embarrassing the Army. He got what he deserved.

This has nothing to do with rank as the separation was administrative. Further, this has nothing to do with the shooting case.

Please constrain your comments to topics upon which you have actual knowledge.


I was there that night, and this article is not correct. The soldier was approached by police at a gas station because the car had been involved in an accident the weekend prior, and was visibly damaged. The accident report for the prior accident was presented to police when inquired about why the car looked the way it did. He was not involved in "damaging of property" that night... so, maybe YOU should constrain your comment content to information that you have actual knowledge of ... The fact that you refer to this story as his "boo-hoo, woe-is me" tale is a MORE than arrogant. He was approached about this article, he didn't put effort to go out and make a spectacle of the matter. The point of the article isn't that he shouldn't have been punished for his actions, or that his decisions didn't warrant a punishment. It is that the army sure did a very good job at making sure that they prosecuted him in the nick of time, kicking him out just days before his civilian trial, and therefore avoiding the legal issue of double jeopardy. The army obviously has many more pressing issues to deal with than a single soldier's DWI, one who gave a year of his life to deployment to Iraq, because for two months after the incident happened, the army said nothing about kicking him out or punishment whatsoever. But as soon as he received a court date from the city of Killeen, he was served with paperwork to be removed from the army, with an discharge date that fell two days before his trial ... how convenient.


My comments reflect the police report and your rebuttal is unsubstantiated. Your opinion of my comments is dismissed; you are what is called an "enabler". You were there and let this man drive drunk, making you just as guilty of this crime as the accused. Both of you criminals belong in jail. The accused was apprehended in operation of a motor vehicle while drunk, and you let it happen-you aren't the solution-YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. The rest of your self-serving comments are dismissed.


I'm retired. I get to do what I want with my time-and you're simply a liar who makes things up to make yourself look good. Clearly, you have mental health issues close to that of a stalker. You make one claim-then change your story when it's clear you were either there and probably ran off than risk arrest, or you're simply a liar. And clearly, you have admitted to others being there-one big happy club of drunk drivers who have made a career choice out of drunk driving and embarrassing the Army. As for my knowledge-I have no excuses-I have 24 years experience dealing with misfits and substandard duds like you who desire to get over on the system, drive drunk-and get a paycheck. Don't ever tell me what I need to do-YOU need to look in the mirror, get over yourself, spare me your undeserved arrogance-and do your damn job to standard or find something else to do, preferably in the civilian world far from here where drunk driving and lying are acceptable standards. Feel free to meet me on facebook for further commentary, since you're such a tough guy.

Mamma Griz

RHIP! Here the guy gets drunk, drives drunk, and gets cashiered out of the military in very short order. On the other hand, there is a MAJ who MURDERED a number of people in 2009 and he is still in the military-- and due to his condition he is being waited on hand and foot, and taxpayers are paying for his nursemaids and other wait staff. It's a shame that the MAJ and the young soldier aren't afforded the same treatment, but RHIP and it has been so for MANY years.


The accused is pending trial and is in pre-trial confinement. Due to the completely different nature of the cases you are comparing, your comments are dismissed.

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