The mother of Marine Lt Col Stuart Scheller on Friday night thanked the judge for his leniency in his case, praising him for taking her son’s criticism of the
Scheller, 40, was ordered to receive a letter of reprimand and to forfeit $5,000 in pay over his blistering online attacks on generals he blamed for the deadly and chaotic departure.
Scheller stood rigidly in his uniform and showed no emotion as Judge Colonel Glen Hines read out his decision – after praising the 17-year veteran’s previously ‘outstanding’ service record.
Scheller’s parents Stuart Sr and Cathy sat quietly in the first row of seating behind their son as he was sentenced.
Cathy Scheller told Fox News host Tucker Carlson, several hours later, that she was relieved.
Cathy Scheller and her husband, Stuart Scheller Sr, appeared on Fox News on Friday night
US Marine Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller, pictured with mother Catherine and father Stuart Sr.
‘I would like to thank Judge Hines for carefully examining all of the evidence,’ she said.
‘Not taking it out of context, listening to our son’s complete and total statement.
‘Checking out his military record, recognizing that there was not a single blemish on it until the fatal day of the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and the 13 service members killed.
‘He recognized it for what it was.
‘He gave the lenient sentence and we just cannot thank you, America, enough.’
The judge at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, said he had watched all the four videos overnight that were posted by Scheller and ‘saw a man who appeared to be in pain, frustrated and confused’.
He said he also spent the evening reviewing Scheller’s service record – which was ‘outstanding before this one month of conduct’.
Judge Hines added: ‘I don’t think I’ve seen an officer consistently in, as we say, the top three blocks of the Christmas tree. He was on a consistent upward path.’
But in the sentencing, he told Scheller: ‘Those who deviate from standards have to be held accountable.’
Stuart Scheller Sr told Carlson that they were now waiting for the military officials to accept his resignation, so he would be free to speak out.
‘It’s not over. The plea deal that Stuart agreed to while in prison was to plead guilty, which, by the way, was always his intent.
‘He accepts accountability.
‘So he pleaded guilty to the charges. He pleaded guilty to the charges, and in return, the Marine Corps and the secretary of the Navy agreed to accept his resignation.
‘The only concern we have is that there is no time limit on that.
‘That could be a week. It could be a month. It could be months.
‘They still have him on a gag order and that’s why we’re out here talking tonight.’
In sentencing on day two of the special hearing, the judge formally told Scheller he would be docked $5,000 pay for one month and would be reprimanded.
Defiant Marine Lt Col Stuart Scheller faces sentencing at a special court martial on Friday following his blistering online attacks on generals he says are responsible for the deadly and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan
Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was thrown in brig for breaking a gag order after he had blasted the US hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan
And he made the point of saying Scheller had only escaped a further $5,000 second month penalty because he had spent nine days in the brig, the Marine’s jail.
The Marine – awarded the Bronze Star amid multiple tours of Afghanistan and Iraq – was subdued as he walked into the courtroom alone after telling media outside: ‘I feel good about everything I said.’
He left with his parents and refused to make a comment about the sentence. A special court martial has limited powers and cannot jail an officer.
Scheller’s attorney Tim Palatore said after the hearing: ‘Every veteran who served in Afghanistan is and should be feeling pain from this situation.
‘He obviously exhibited his pain in a certain way and at this point he is going to go back and take some time for himself, some quiet time. And then figure out what he is going to do next in his life.
‘He put his career on the line and as you just saw, he has lost his career to put out a message. And if that message goes unheard, if nothing happens from it, then the pain will continue.’
The US Marine gained notoriety in August when he released a public video ripping into the Afghanistan fiasco that allowed the country to fall to the
He pleaded guilty to multiple charges and was seeking an honorable discharge or a discharge with honorable intent and a letter of reprimand.
The decorated officer – whose four videos and other social media posts went viral – made an impassioned speech to the hearing on Thursday, saying: ‘This is not the America I know.
‘This is not the America that I have fought so hard to defend the last 17 years.’
Scheller – who admitted to the hearing that his life has ‘spiraled’ out of control with the breakdown of his marriage and loss of a business he co-owned – added: ‘I was never charged with a false official statement. Because everything I have said is true.
‘If the Marine Corps could have charged me with that, they would have. My statements all center around the fact that I do not believe General Officers are held to the same standards as junior leaders.’
Scheller’s posts demanded Pentagon staff should be held accountable for the fiasco that led to the Taliban taking lightning control of Afghanistan after President Joe Biden’s withdrawal announcement – and the eventual deaths of 13 US service members and 170 Afghans from suicide bomb attacks at Kabul airport on August 16.
He told the hearing at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that his bosses had spun a smear campaign against him during his posting spree, wrongly claiming he was suicidal.
Scheller arrived grim-faced for his special court martial yesterday following his blistering social media attacks on military top brass over the Afghanistan withdrawal fiasco
On Thursday Colonel Stuart Scheller Jr. (seen in uniform) was flanked by his defense team including lawyer Timothy Parlatore as he walked to the courtroom at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina
‘I also believe that once I spoke out, the Marine Corps holistically took every opportunity to attack me, and never actually cared about my well-being,’ he said.
‘But it’s hard for the Marine Corps to defeat someone who refuses to quit. Going forward, I am still demanding accountability from my senior General officers. Since this endeavor began, not a single General officer has accepted accountability.
‘Not a single General officer has contacted me directly in any forum to de-escalate the situation. Since this endeavor began, I have acknowledged that I should be held accountable for my actions.
‘I am standing here today pleading guilty. This is me accepting accountability. But it deeply pains me that my senior leaders are incapable of being as courageous.’
Lt. Colonel Stuart Scheller was charged with six violations of the military code
Scheller has admitted six charges and the prosecution has demanded he lose $5,000 of his monthly pay for six months and receive a reprimand. He wants to quit the Marines, but bosses have not yet accepted his resignation. He earns $92,931 a year, the court heard.
The officer – awarded the Bronze Star during multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq – continued to ram home his criticism of his bosses during the hearing.
He said: ‘General officers have relegated themselves to ‘yes sir’ responses. We need senior leaders who possess the morale courage to push back when something doesn’t make sense.
‘I did what I did because I thought it was in the best long-term interest of the Marine Corps. I have always wanted to make the Marine Corps better. Not damage the Marine Corps. I acknowledge that my actions placed the Marine Corps in a position where they were forced to respond and couldn’t quietly hide behind closed doors.
‘My actions were very public, and at times, very emotional. But I think the emotional rollercoaster that I went through, is what every service member in the country goes through. The only difference is that my experience was very public.’
Scheller was ordered to take a mental health evaluation during the online postings spree. But he pointed out the Marine Corps had never asked him to take one at other critical points of his life, such as missing the birth of children or being unable to attend family funerals.
Supporters raised over $2 million for the marine who was jailed for defying orders to stop publicly criticizing the nation’s Afghanistan withdrawal
‘The Marine Corps only cared about my mental health once I publicly challenged the leadership,’ he said.
‘After I was released from the hospital, I felt like all bets were off. I felt like the Marine Corps was out to get me, and I didn’t feel like a single officer or previous peer had my back.’
He said he joined the Marines after working as an accountant straight out of college when he saw footage of troops from the elite corps in the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004.
‘At the center of this violent attack, was the unit V18,’ he said.
‘Watching those Marines filled me with awe, respect, and love.
‘I knew how much I loved America, and I was mad at myself for not making more sacrifices for the country. I called the Marine Corps that day and began my journey.’
Scheller eventually joined unit V18 before much later becoming commander of an infantry training battalion at Camp Lejeune. Members of V18 were the majority of the victims of the deadly suicide bomber attack in Kabul, helping to spark his viral postings.
Scheller has admitted contempt toward officials, disrespect toward the superior commissioned officers, willfully disobeying superior commissioned officers, dereliction in the performance of duties, failure to obey order or regulation, and conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.
THE MILITARY’S CHARGES AGAINST LIEUTENANT COLONEL STUART SCHELLER
- Contempt towards officials
- Disrespect toward the superior commissioned officers
- Willfully disobeying superior commissioned officer
- Dereliction in the performance of duties
- Failure to obey order or regulation
- Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman
The day after his first post on the day of the deadly airport attack, he was stripped of his job commanding the school of infantry at the massive Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. This was due to ‘a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command,’ Marines spokesman Major Jim Stenger said at the time.
Despite the firing, Scheller continued to post another video and written statements on social media in the face of orders to stop. These also went viral, gaining hundreds of thousands of views.
In one he promised to file charges against the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Frank McKenzie, saying: ‘Senior leaders need to be held accountable the same as us.’
Eventually he was sent to the brig – the Marines’ jail – on September 27, sparking a massive groundswell of support to get him out from the grim confinement. He was freed a week later on October 5 after his lawyers came to an agreement with the Marine Corps.
Scheller accepted his guilt on all the charges, but at times defiantly explained the reasons for his stand – and still took jabs at the higher command.
In his passionate statement to the court martial, Scheller said, ‘My calls for revolution were always about changing the system. A system that centralizes power and fails to hold senior leaders accountable. A system that will immediately turn on you if you speak out.
‘If I could go back, I would have chosen different words. But at no time was that a call to violence. I was stating that the system is broken and needs to be rebuilt. I still feel this is the case.’
Before his statement, he said he made one video in a Red Roof Inn hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and added: ‘My life was spiraling at this time. I was receiving messages that I was going to be court martialed because of my statements.’
But he denied his actions were due to a severe mental state.
Pressed by the judge, Colonel Glen Hines, about the mental effects of the stress, he said: ‘I was ordered to get a mental evaluation.’
The judge asked what had happened when ‘your life was spiraling out of control’.
Some US representatives have said Scheller Jr’s imprisonment ‘appears to be for messaging, retribution, and convenience.’ The brig is pictured
A source close to the case says he stayed in an area of the brig normally for murderers
Scheller replied: ‘My wife had left me and I had a small business taken from me.’
The officer also inferred that the Marine Corp had played dirty tricks and twisted his words as the result of a conversation he had with his deputy, making them more inflammatory.
He was asked by judge Col. Hines if he made a comment about the riot at the Capitol Building with the words: ‘I’m going to burn the system down. Those guys on January 6 were not a bunch of pu**ies.’
Scheller said: ‘It was taken out of context. I didn’t use those exact words. I said words to that effect.’
The alleged comments were during a conversation with Scheller’s number 2 in command, the hearing was told. Scheller said: ‘My XO (executive officer) led me into a conversation by telling me I was getting a lot of support, how the Marine Corp was f***ed and becoming political.
‘I then replied if there was ever a group of people you could…’
Scheller’s words faded off. He then said: ‘I thought I was talking to someone in a private conversation who was trustworthy. This was after I had been relieved of my command.
‘Investigators took those words and asked every single person, my wife, my mom and dad. And those words were leaked.’
He told the hearing he filmed a total of four videos and six or seven written posts on social media, with the final viral video ‘sparking the gag order’. Two of them were while he was wearing uniform.
On his second video post he said he ‘called for a change to the system and a revolution’.
Scheller publicly shared his resignation letter, addressing it to Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Torro and citing ‘a lack of trust and confidence in your ability to lead’
He continued: ‘That video is what scared everybody. I was very deliberate. I thought, the best case is the Marine Corps are going to hide me for three years as a failure. And that would be a lie.’
When he referred on video to bringing ‘the whole f***ing system down’, he agreed with the judge over its tone in hindsight, saying: ‘I would have used different language.’
But he added: ‘I was full of emotion, anger, betrayal.’
When asked about the charge of dereliction of duty, he replied: ‘I willfully disobeyed an order (in order to) tell hard truths,’
Referring to the generals, he told the hearing: ‘I made statements about their incompetence.’
Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene spoke on Scheller’s behalf to the hearing via a Zoom link – saying: ‘I’m amazed at his courage.
‘I cannot express how millions of Americans are outraged about the military leadership. I believe it was right of him.
‘I’m outraged that none of the leaders are sitting in court right now being held accountable for their actions. We need accountability. Thirteen military members died needlessly. We abandoned US citizens in Afghanistan. Yes, there needs to be accountability and it’s right to stand up and say that.
‘Lt Col Scheller is in court. You should have Mark Milley (Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff) and the Secretary of Defense.’
Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert – who sent a letter demanding Scheller’s release form the brig after he was held – also testified on the officer’s behalf.
He called the withdrawal from Afghanistan ‘a surrender’ and Scheller ‘a hero’. He went on: ‘Here you have a person who has pled guilty. People just can’t believe what’s going on in America and especially in the Marines. They don’t leave people on the battlefield but that seems to have taken a hit in recent days.’
The Marines Corp’s investigation into Scheller runs to more than 600 pages, the hearing was told.
Scheller’s lead attorney Tim Parlatore said in closing arguments Thursday: ‘The charges against Lt Col Scheller began with a call for accountability by the senior military leadership and end here, with Lt Col Scheller standing tall, leading by example, and showing the nation that he is willing to accept responsibility and accountability for his actions.
‘For Lt Col Scheller to do anything other than take full responsibility for his actions would make him a hypocrite. He admits that, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a commissioned officer, like him, is not allowed to question why senior leaders took actions that he believed led to the needless loss of 13 American servicemembers lives.’
Scheller referred to a David Borden in his impassioned statement. This was a former Army infantry captain assigned to the Marines, who was severely wounded by a suicide bomber that claimed the life of one of his patrol.
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was jailed in a North Carolina brig Monday for defying orders to stop publicly criticizing US’s Afghanistan withdrawal. He has served in the Marines for 17 years
He lost a leg and nearly lost this life in the bombing in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2008. Scheller served closely with Borden, who gave a glowing tribute to his former comrade during the court martial, saying he had helped him pull through his ‘darkest’ times.
Another ex-comrade, former Marine infantry officer Matthew Underhill gave testimony saying Scheller was ‘destined for a star’ – meaning he would one day become a general.
He added: ‘I still feel that. He treated junior marines with respect but also demanded accountability. That was his thing, accountability.’
One of the accused officer’s legal team, Jerimiah Sullivan, pointed out to the hearing: ‘No one has said that what Lt Col Scheller has said is false.
‘We want to put that into perspective. We do have an issue with the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the loss of 13 service members. That was preventable.’
Parlatore told DailyMail.com exclusively before the hearing: ‘It is interesting to note that senior leaders have not dismissed his message. But they want to crush the messenger.’
Scheller has waived his right to a trial by jury and has elected trial by military judge alone.
Parlatore said outside the courtroom Thursday: ‘This is a sentencing case. Stu has accepted responsibility. He is going to plead guilty so this is not a matter of going in and saying, hey he did the right thing but it is a matter of saying what is an appropriate punishment given the circumstances under which he committed these videos.
‘We expect he will get a letter of reprimand. We are not expecting any confinement. He has submitted his resignation and the Secretary of the Navy will later decide on that.’
Asked how Scheller was feeling , Parlatore said: ‘Any criminal defendant walking into a court house is not going to feel that great. So obviously there are always nerves. But at the same time he is looking forward to the opportunity to put this thing to rest and to come out, accept responsibility.
‘This case all began with demand for accountability. Today he is going to show the Pentagon what it looks like to stand up and take accountability for your actions.’
Judge conducts inquiry into plea: Scheller is required to state why he’s guilty
Judge: Why do you think you are guilty for Spec I?
Scheller: I believed the Secretary of Defense made decisions that led to the failed withdraw of Afghanistan. Because I expressed his incompetence publicly, and since according to the UCMJ, truth or falsity of the statement is immaterial, I believe I am guilty of the charges.
Judge: How do you know these comments were heard outside a private setting?
Scheller: Because many Gold-Star families, junior enlisted Marines, and Congressman reached out in support of my statements.
Judge: Why did you think you are guilty for Spec II?
Scheller: Because in the statement General Berger made to the Force dated 17 August, I believed he illustrated a lack of understanding. I didn’t think he understood why the junior service members were frustrated following the failed Afghanistan withdraw. I believed his failure to diagnose the correct problem would ultimately lead to a higher suicide rate amongst Service Members and decreased combat effectiveness of the Marine Corps. And saying so in a public forum was disrespectful.
Judge: Why do you think you are guilty of Charge 2, Spec 1 – 3?
Scheller: I believed General Officers failed to hold themselves accountable. I made what I believed to be true statements about their incompetence. It is disrespectful to point out their professional failures. Doing so detracts from the respect their positions demand.
Judge: Why do you think you are guilty of Spec 4?
Scheller: I told Col Emmel to have the MPs waiting for me. It is disrespectful to tell my commanding officer how to discipline me in a public setting. Doing so detracts from the respect his position deserves.
Judge: Why do you think you are guilty [of Charge III Willfully Disobeying a Superior Commissioned Officer}?
Scheller: I willfully disobeyed an order to tell hard truths. I believed the scope of the order was trying to prevent me from posting content that would bring discredit to the Marine Corps, which I chose to ignore.
Judge: Why did you do this?
Scheller: A message of accountability was more important than the lawfulness of my behavior. I chose to speak out knowing it is unlawful in an effort to illustrate the hypocrisy of my senior leaders.
A source close to the case says Scheller stayed in an area of the brig normally for murderers
Scheller publicly shared his resignation letter, addressing it to Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Torro and citing ‘a lack of trust and confidence in your ability to lead’
Lt. Col. Scheller’s full statement to court martial
9/11 enraged and pained me like all Americans. But unlike many of my peers, the events of 9/11 aren’t what compelled me to join the military. For me, I found myself working as an accountant in a cubical post college. From my cubical one day in 2004, I was able to watch the Marines moving through the city of Fallujah on the news. At the center of this violent attack, was the unit V18. Watching those Marines filled me with awe, respect, and love. I knew how much I loved America, and I was mad at myself for not making more sacrifices for the country. I called the Marine Corps that day and began my journey.
After 17 years, I want to express how grateful I am for everything the Marine Corps did to mold me into the man I am. Despite the recent events, and everything that has been discussed today I owe the Marine Corps a lot.
The Marine Corps for me was never supposed to be a career. But I’ve stayed as long as I have for two reasons:
1. Love for the Marines and
2. The opportunity to make a difference on the battlefield as a leader.
I truly believe America is the greatest country in the world.
I truly believe the American military is the greatest military in the world.
I truly believe the Marine Corps has the best talent of all the military services.
But I also truly believe fundamental change needs to occur in the military. I have observed that the General officers are unable or unwilling to hold themselves accountable.
I have always loved the Marines. But as my recent public comments illustrate, I have started questioning the long-standing system of the Marine Corps, and for that matter, the military as a whole.
Prior to the withdrawal of Afghanistan, I was reflecting on the often-told stories about the previous Commandants Wilson and Barrow. Those two Commandants led the USMC after the failures in Vietnam. The narrative told today is that Commandants Wilson and Barrow ‘fixed the service’ with their generational shift. They fixed the Service by raising the standards on the junior enlisted Marine. Said another way, the junior enlisted Marines weren’t capable of winning the Vietnam war, or the next war, so the Generals needed to fix the Service.
I was thinking about the parallels of Vietnam and Afghanistan as I read General Berger’s letter to the Force dated 18 August. This letter in my opinion perfectly illustrates senior military leader’s inability to see the true pain in Service members following a failed war effort. General Berger told Service members their sacrifices were worth it without offering any connection back to a bigger purpose. He concluded the letter with how Service members should go seek counseling. At no point did he acknowledge any failures of the leadership.
A week after reading his statement, I was sitting in my office on August 26th, and I was told that 13 service members had been killed and many more injured in an SVEST attack. I also knew the majority of the casualties were from V18… my first unit. My mind was immediately taken back to my friend Dave Borden, who was hit with an SVEST when we served in Ramadi together with V18. It was the same situation playing out again. I thought about all the time I spent with Dave in Walter Reed, and in the half-way treatment house months later. I thought about LCpl Gluff who was killed in that SVEST attack next to Dave. And at the same time as these thoughts ran through my mind, I was receiving pictures from a friend on my phone from Marines who were involved in the recent Abby Gate Afghanistan SVEST incident.
In that moment I had clarity. I realized the military was continuing to make the same mistakes because senior leaders continued to diagnose the wrong problem. I concluded that our senior leaders were either unable or unwilling to have an honest discussion about our failures in a public forum that would necessitate REAL change. I also decided that quietly addressing these concerns within the chain of command would be ineffective. I knew my complaints would never be heard by the Commandant, the SECDEF, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, or the American people if I went through the proper channels. Reference the charges I tried to prefer against General McKenzie. It is a perfect example of how going through the system doesn’t work.
In the first video I connected the failed Afghan withdraw, the attacks on V18, and General Berger’s letter to the force. I stated, ‘The reason people are so upset right now is NOT because of the Marine on the battlefield. That Service member has always rose to the occasion and done extraordinary things. The reason people are so upset right now is because their senior leaders let them down, and none of them are raising their hands and taking accountability.’ I ended by saying, ‘I’ve been fighting for 17 years and I’m willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders… I demand accountability.’
That Thursday night, as the video started to go viral, I stated on my LinkedIn page that I did not plan to resign despite all the demands for my resignation. At that time, that is how I felt. I wanted to remain in the Marine Corps.
When I came into work the next morning, on August 27th, the first person I spoke to was Col Emmel. He asked what I was trying to achieve with the video. He told me he didn’t think I would be able to affect any real change. He then told me that morning that I would NOT be relieved immediately. He told me to go home for the weekend and an investigation would take place, and that following the investigation the command would decide if it warranted my relief and/or follow-on administrative action.
When Col Emmel left my office, my Battalion Executive Officer came in so we could conduct a turnover. He was going to run the Battalion in my absence. He said, ‘I don’t need anything from you sir. I just want you to know how much I respect you, and how political and fucked up the Marine Corps has gotten. That’s why a lot of guys are getting out. That’s why our old Gunner got out. In fact, I first heard about your video when our old Gunner called me this morning. He said, your new boss just posted a video that is all truth. I’m sure he’s going down, but someone needed to have the courage to say it. Please tell him how proud we all are of him.’ My Battalion Executive Officer then went on to say, ‘We all know it’s political. You know the joint chiefs who signed a letter condemning the January 6th attacks… how political was that? I’m not saying I condone the January 6th attacks, but I am saying for all the joint chiefs to sign a letter on that topic, but not to condemn any of the other recent riots that have caused more damage and deaths is purely political.’ To which I responded… ‘Yes, those idiots on January 6th were unorganized and unintelligent. If ever there was a force that used deliberate thought, the outcome could be much worse.’
At no time did I ever advocate for the violent overthrow of the government. I was led into the conversation of the January 6th attacks by someone I trusted, and then my words were twisted. Furthermore, the investigating officer then took that statement and led every witness he interviewed with questions about my involvement in the January 6th attacks. This in my perception, was as an attempt by the Marine Corps to paint me into something I’m not. The Marine Corps, despite their best efforts, was not able to find any evidence of insurrection. If the Marine Corps could have charged me with insurrection… they would have.
Then later that same Friday the 27th, while I was back at my house, without explanation, Col Emmel called me back into work, even though he told me to take the weekend off. When I came back into work, he relieved me for cause. He never explained why he did a 180, and I didn’t ask. I’m not sure if it was my Battalion Executive Officer’s comments, or a decision made above Col Emmel. But at the time, not even understanding what my Battalion Executive Officer had said, I agreed that the relief was best for the Marine Corps. And I wanted, and still want, what was best for the Marine Corps. When I left work, I made a post stating that I had been relieved, ‘and that my command was doing exactly what I would have done.’ After publicly announcing my relief, at that time, I still planned on allowing the investigation to run its course, and to remain in the Marine Corps without further statements.
But after my relief, when I got home and back on my social media, I saw a post from my old commanding officer Colonel Hobbs. He commented below my statement on LinkedIn that I didn’t plan to resign and stated, ‘If Stuart Scheller were honorable, he would resign.’ This comment devastated me. He didn’t call me. He didn’t text me. He didn’t email me. Someone who I even stated in my second video, ‘That I loved like a father.’ He demonstrated that he didn’t care about me at all. And even though he’s retired, Colonel Hobbs is still very active in the Marine Corps. In fact, he called after my second video and left me a voicemail stating that he and General Neller were discussing my situation. That’s the influence Col Hobbs still has.
After reading his comment following my relief, my thoughts went from disappointment to anger. It was the first time I started thinking about resigning. I started thinking, if my call for accountability can result in me being fired and investigated in 24 hours, and my greatest mentor in the Marine Corps can immediately turn on me without any empathy for me as a human being, maybe my senior leaders don’t care about me at all. Maybe, this is not an organization that I want to be a part of. This led me to my second post on Friday the 27th, where I stated, ‘Last night when I posted the video I immediately had multiple Marines call and ask me to take down the post. ‘We all agree with you Stu, but nothing will change, and it will come at a huge personal cost to you.’ Now that I’ve had time to process… I’ll offer this… we can’t ALL be wrong. If you all agree… then step up. They only have the power because we allow it. What if we all demanded accountability? Every generation needs a revolution.’
This post is where the Marine Corps and I started parting ways dramatically. My calls for revolution were always about changing the system. A system that centralizes power and fails to hold senior leaders accountable. A system that will immediately turn on you if you speak out.
Col Emmel called me that Friday night and made it very clear that I was heading towards legal action with the most recent post and reminded me again of the social media policy.
So I took Saturday to contemplate my situation. In that day I came to the conclusion that the Marine Corps didn’t really care about me, and that best case, I would be hidden in an office for three years as a failure. But that most likely I was heading towards a BOI for separation based on my use of the word revolution. This situation led me into the second video that I posted on Sunday August 29th. The second video was me declaring that I felt like the General Officers and leaders of the military didn’t understand or care. In the video I stated my intention to resign and give up my retirement. I also stated, ‘I want to be clear that I love the Marine Corps.’ And then I went on to state, ‘Follow me and we will bring the whole fucking system down.’ If I could go back, I would have chosen different words. But at no time was that a call to violence. I was stating that the system is broken and needs to be rebuilt. I still feel this is the case. I still feel fundamental change is required. I still feel a revolution, or rebuilding the broken system is the only way to fix the shortfalls if senior leaders are unable or unwilling to fix it themselves.
Following the post of the second video, that Sunday afternoon my CO texted me to call him. Immediately after he texted me, the SOI XO called me. I answered his call and spoke to him for over ten minutes. He obviously thought I was suicidal, which I knew I wasn’t. He kept stating that he would come meet me, and I kept stating that it wasn’t necessary. We repeated the same thing over and over to each other until finally I got frustrated and said, ‘That’s enough. I answered your call out of professional courtesy. I am not suicidal. And I’m not going to continue having this conversation.’ And then the phone call ended. I didn’t call Col Emmel back because I had just spoken to his XO for a great length of time, and I assumed that was sufficient.
I kept my phone on for the rest of the day and no one called me until later that night. Two Marines I know, Major Cummings and LtCol Helminski texted me that NCIS arrived at their houses respectively. Both told me NCIS was looking for me. To which I responded, ‘Why didn’t they just call me and ask where I was?’ They didn’t know. So I told both of them the same thing, ‘I’m fine, and I can talk to NCIS tomorrow morning at 08:00 when I show up to work. I am not suicidal.’ Then I saw a statement released by the Marine Corps public affairs office that stated, ‘the Marine Corps is trying to locate LtCol Scheller to ensure his safety and the safety of those around him.’ I was furious about this statement. I assumed if the Marine Corps was REALLY trying to locate me, that they would have been smart enough to call me. The SOI XO was able to reach me. My peers were able to reach me. This seemed like an obvious attempt from the Marine Corps to paint me as suicidal. Which was another indicator to me that the system didn’t really care about me, but only wanted to protect itself. If they really thought I was suicidal… why not call me… unless they were actually hoping I would commit suicide.
When I went into work the next morning the Marine Corps narrative of my unstable mental health continued to be discussed. My CO told me he wanted me to volunteer for a mental evaluation. I told him that wasn’t necessary. So he ordered me to get a mental health evaluation. I did, and they determined what I knew all along, which I wasn’t mentally unstable, just very angry at what I perceived to be consistent betrayal.
The mental health angle is frustrating for many reasons. The Marine Corps never ordered me to get a mental health evaluation when I missed the birth of my first child while deployed to Afghanistan. The Marine Corps never ordered me to get a mental health evaluation when I missed the funerals of all three of my grandparents while on different deployments. The Marine Corps only cared about my mental health once I publicly challenged the leadership.
After I was released from the hospital, I felt like all bets were off. I felt like the Marine Corps was out to get me, and I didn’t feel like a single officer or previous peer had my back. Just reference the comments about me in the investigation. They called me, ‘narcissistic, egotistical, entitled, too relaxed, abusive, bi-polar, poor selection to battalion command, treats people like shit, embellished combat record, smirks unnecessarily, supports January 6th attacks, should go to jail, etc.’ No one said anything positive. Not one. While at this time I hadn’t actually read the investigation, I could feel their contempt in every conversation.
Also, at this time my family was out of state and my marriage was falling apart. All I wanted to do was to travel up to my wife and try to make amends. I asked Col Emmel for leave, but he wouldn’t allow it until all my medial and out-processing administration was done. He said my number one priority should be preparing to exit the Marine Corps, and all other things could wait. So I had to continue to come into work every day, which in my opinion, was never about my best interest.
The following day, on Tuesday, August 31st, I submitted my resignation letter because I knew the divide between the Marine Corps and myself was too deep for repair.
The next day, Wednesday September 1st, I made four posts that I later deleted. Two were directly to General Berger; in one post I stated that I heard General Burger was trying to court martial me. I then went on to comment about his current initiative to revoke the authority of Battalion Commander’s to manage their unit’s social media. To me this is an example of the system centralizing control. In a second post to General Berger, I thanked him for addressing the need to discuss the withdraw of Afghanistan. A third post I made that day was in response to the attack on my small business. I spoke to my business partner who told me MCCS was potentially pulling my product, The Perfect Ribbon, off the shelves of the Marine Corps exchanges because of my actions. Again, this was just another example of how I thought the Marine Corps was unlawfully attacking me. Again I thought, why would they do that if they actually cared about me? My fourth post that day was to my wife. She wasn’t answering my phone calls. I wasn’t able to take leave, and even though I knew she had taken down her social media, I knew my plea to her would be forwarded. But in hindsight, I shouldn’t have made any of those posts. So I ended up deleting all four posts from that Wednesday. I concluded that I was under duress and that the posts didn’t accurately reflect my message. I also deeply regret the way I handled what should have been a private conversation with my wife.
But I never went back and deleted my messages demanding accountability, or how I thought the system was failing. I made another post on Thursday 2 September clarifying my position and demand for accountability. I very clearly stated that ‘I planned to bring the whole system down… in a constitutional manner with one loud voice.’
At this point, I felt the world was against me, and all I could see was the hypocrisy of the system. Everything I thought about frustrated me. So I made another post on Labor Day that quoted the right in the Declaration of Independence for the people to throw off the old form of government if it isn’t serving the interests of the people. I also illustrated my frustration with General officers who take jobs with high paying government contractors following their retirement. This seems highly unethical to me and is another symptom of our inability to hold senior leaders accountable. For example, the current Secretary of Defense got a high paying job with Raytheon to be on the board of directors following his military retirement, which in itself is unethical. But then he was selected to become the Secretary of Defense. The ethical issues with this conflict of interest are obvious to me.
Later that week, on Friday September 10th, I published a third video titled United WE stand. In this video I was trying to communicate my emotional process. I was trying to show all the people who kept calling me crazy that I was just a normal guy, like all other Service members asked to kill people in the last 20 years. I wanted to normalize the psychological impact on service members after a failed war. I wanted other Service Members to see that it’s normal to get mad. And that just because you’re mad, doesn’t mean you’re bi-polar or have a mental illness. That it’s normal to cry. That it’s normal to question why your government asked you to commit violence. That it’s normal to demand accountability from the same senior leaders who asked you to commit the violence. At no time in that video did I state I was going to use violence to hold my senior leaders accountable. But again, that is how the message was spun. I posted the video to demonstrate how these emotions are normal, but somehow I was painted as even crazier than before. Everyone was telling me that I was having a mental break down.
Following this video my lawyer was trying to make a deal.
But at the time, I felt like my honor and reputation were at stake. I felt the Marine Corps was challenging me without addressing my demands for accountability… AT ALL. I felt like at that point, if I had taken any agreed upon deal, I would always have been painted as the stereotypical crazy veteran. I felt like all my very valid points would have been forgotten.
And to be clear, I am a command selected Battalion Commander. Can you imagine a LCpl demanding accountability for rape or any other valid complaint? How do you think the command would treat those Marines? Do you think the command would be more sympathetic to them than how they have treated me? This whole process, in my opinion, should be a case study on how the system can turn on someone who speaks out. I truly hope going forward that Marine Corps leaders can better tolerate challenges to the system.
I ended up deciding to post a fourth video, on Thursday September 16th, to ensure my request for accountability was not forgotten. I posted the video in my uniform, because unlike my previous two videos, I was very controlled and deliberate in the fourth video. In the fourth video, I was speaking directly to the General officers. I also stated my intention to prefer legal charges against General McKenzie so that my command, who was trying to hold me accountable, would also be forced to take a formal position on the charges I levied against General McKenzie. But up to this point, they have denied me this right.
After I posted the fourth video, my command finally grew tired of reminding me about the social media policy and issued me the gag order. To be clear, I never stated that I would stop posting. I only signed and acknowledge that Col Emmel gave me a gag order. After signing, I remained silent for the rest of the week on social media. During that week I was fighting four sperate legal battles with four different groups of lawyers. My wife handed me a separation agreement, my business partner initiated a process to buy me out of the company since my name hurt the brand, I was trying unsuccessfully to prefer legal action against General McKenzie, and I was also trying to defend myself against the legal actions being brought towards me by the command. It was a tough week for me personally and professionally.
Then that weekend, on Saturday, September 25th, I deliberately made three posts that violated the gag order. I did so willingly.
I knew if I said true things that were hard to hear, my command would likely overreact and send me to jail. I felt this overreaction would ultimately bring coverage to my situation and force the General officers to answer tough questions about the hypocrisy of our situations.
But even though I anticipated my command would send me to jail, when I went into work on Monday, I was very disturbed that Col Emmel stated on the confinement order that I was a flight risk. Up to that point, I knew Col Emmel was very upset with me, but I didn’t take it personally. I also sympathized with his responsibility to hold the party line. But when he stated formally that I was a flight risk with absolutely no evidence of this, I felt like he lied to silence and punish me. The truth is that I came into work every day and had responded to every request even after he refused to let me take leave. The only time I failed to communicate with him was the one text he sent me after my second video, which again, I felt was appropriately addressed after I spoke to his XO for ten minutes. Yet still somehow, he listed on a formal document that I was a flight risk to justify my confinement.
While in the brig I again tried to submit a resignation in lieu of trial, but my command rejected it. They wanted a conviction of guilt. Thus, I obviously signed a deal to plead guilty to a litany of charges at special court martial, which brings us to today. But the attacks from the Marine Corps continued even after my release. Following my release, the Marine Corps leaked confidential documents to the senior pentagon journalist for Task and Purpose. Of note, the Marine Corps placed my medical records in the investigation, and then leaked these documents to Task and Purpose. For them to leak my medical records is truly heartbreaking. Furthermore, had I leaked something to the media, I would have gone back to jail. But no one in the Marine Corps will be held accountable for the leaked documents. In the article ran by Task and Purpose, I was painted as a violent extremist, Fascist, and the journalist even made a connection to Hitler. Obviously, you can understand that I was very angry following the article. After everything I’ve been through, I feel it’s reasonable to conclude that the Marine Corps and Task and Purpose were working together in an effort to smear my name. I also feel that it’s possible the Marine Corps was trying to bait me into posting again.
This is not the America I know. This is not the America that I have fought so hard to defend the last 17 years.
In summary, I was never charged with a false official statement. Because everything I have said is true. If the Marine Corps could have charged me with, they would have. My statements all center around the fact that I do not believe General Officers are held to the same standards as junior leaders. I also believe, that similar to post Vietnam, the Marine Corps leadership is trying to spin the narrative about our failures on the junior enlisted without taking a hard look at themselves. I also believe that once I spoke out, the Marine Corps wholistically took every opportunity to attack me, and never actually cared about my well-being.
But it’s hard for the Marine Corps to defeat someone who refuses to quit. Going forward, I am still demanding accountability from my senior General officers. Since this endeavor began, not a single General officer has accepted accountability. Not a single General officer has contacted me directly in any forum to deescalate the situation. Since this endeavor began, I have acknowledged that I should be held accountable for my actions. I am standing here today pleading guilty. This is me accepting accountability. But it deeply pains me that my senior leaders are incapable of being as courageous.
Without accountability from our senior leaders, the system cannot evolve, and the military will ultimately keep repeating the same mistakes in the future. It doesn’t matter if a SSgt squad leader is highly efficient in distributed operations if the General officers have relegated themselves to ‘yes sir’ responses. We need senior leaders who possess the morale courage to push back when something doesn’t make sense.
Furthermore, I understand that my process of criticism was unorothodoxed and not within official Marine Corps channels. I essentially requested mast in a very public setting. I acknowledge that it was potentially damaging to the Marine Corps’ reputation. But I felt the conversation and need for change outweighed the potential negative bad press. I did what I did because I thought it was in the best long-term interest of the Marine Corps. I have always wanted to make the Marine Corps better. Not damage the Marine Corps. I acknowledge that my actions placed the Marine Corps in a position where they were forced to respond and couldn’t quietly hide behind closed doors.
My actions were very public, and at times, very emotional. But I think the emotional rollercoaster that I went through, is what every service member in the country goes through. The only difference is that my experience was very public. And unlike the 22 Service Members a day who kill themselves, I decided a long time ago that I will never be broken. No matter the struggle… I will prevail stronger. Post Traumatic Growth. But even with that mindset, that doesn’t mean I don’t experience pain. That doesn’t mean I don’t experience depression. That doesn’t mean I don’t take time to cry.
If the leaders of the military actually cared about service members, and their sacrifices, all the current and previous senior leaders would engage in public discussions about the shortfalls in their decision making. Senior leaders accepting accountability would heal more service members than any other initiative. The junior service members deserve that from their leadership.
I believe the General officers have demonstrated that they are unable or unwilling to hold themselves accountable. As a result, I believe fundamental change needs to occur in the military.
I am being held accountable for my actions. The General officers should be held accountable for their failures.
Lt. Col. Stu Scheller