COLORADO SPRINGS — During the 2005 War on Terror, a new program rolled out to combat a troop shortage. Essentially, it gave off-duty soldiers an incentive to recruit and go around their town or talk to friends about enlisting.

“We were paid a thousand dollars either when we officially took them to an official recruiter and we got the second thousand dollars when they were signed to MEPS. Or when they were sworn in and completed basic training,” said Cpt. Gilberto De Leon.

Cpt. De Leon talks about G-RAP. Credit: Rachel Saurer

Cpt. De Leon said the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP) actually became the most successful recruiting program in the military.

“More than a thousand recruits alone recruited three-hundred thousand soldiers during the seven-year program,” he said.

However, an Army audit in 2012 revealed the program had some issues.

“It was discovered that, number one, [it] was illegal the way it was set up by DC. And then number two, there were some soldiers that were not talking to anybody. They were just sending in emails and getting checks. That’s not the case of the vast majority,” said Jeffrey Addicott, retired Army lieutenant colonel and law professor at St. Mary’s Univ. School of Law.

The investigations and Titles have impacted servicemembers and their families. Credit: Rachel Saurer

Congress then launched an investigation, setting up a task force — the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) — to investigate those who were recruited through G-RAP.

“Investigators would come up to individuals that went into the military seven to eight years later and said ‘hey, do you remember, for example, talking to Captain De Leon?’ And who remembers who they talked to ten years ago?” Addicott said.

He said soldiers would tell investigators they didn’t know who recruited them, so the CID simply assumed the recruiter was guilty. This means that anyone who participated in G-RAP would automatically be Titled. As a result, any background check would reveal the soldier committed some type of crime.

“That means the soldier will not get promoted, will not get favorable assignments, and then, if the soldier is out of the military, they’re trying to work for a particular government agency, they’ll be denied,” Addicott said.

Despite years of service and millions of dollars invested into them, soldiers have a limited future in the Army as long as they have received Titling. Credit: Rachel Saurer

With the Title block looming over soldiers, Cpt. De Leon said it has become a nightmare situation for them.

“There’s been a lot of mental issues to include suicide. Families contacted me in the past 48 hours. They couldn’t handle the embarrassment, the isolation from the military and the fact that they can’t provide for their families because of this Title that is wrong,” he said.

Cpt. De Leon said he’s hoping his story can encourage other soldiers to know they’re not alone, and he won’t stop fighting until they can find justice.

Read the law article here.