Ian MacLeod thought he would finally receive his separation from the Texas Air National Guard on May 1. He'd been stuck in the base library since the beginning of August -- his ordeal was detailed in this week's issue -- when an investigation into his personal life first began. His commanders had learned that MacLeod (not his real name, as the first lieutenant requested anonymity) had begun a relationship with a woman, Candse Ellis, on the verge of divorce. Despite the fact that she was physically and financially separated from her husband, Army Sgt. Brady Ellis, MacLeod's commanders saw fit to begin an investigation into the nature of his relationship with Candse, a nursing student, waitress, and mother of four.
That investigation, which ended in October, has seen MacLeod inhabit a purgatory far longer than he'd initially thought, and far stricter than he deserved. Not only did the investigation somehow find MacLeod guilty of carrying on an "inappropriate relationship" with Candse -- despite the fact that Brady admitted to tampering the emails that served as the initial basis for accusation -- but MacLeod's superior, Lt. Col. David Penney, who has since retired, placed a No-Contact Order on MacLeod on Candse. Not only could MacLeod not speak with Candse, but he couldn't even tell this grown woman, who presented no physical or logistical threat to the TXANG, that he'd no longer be able to contact her. (TXANG declined to comment on the story.)
After requests for transfer or work detail were denied, MacLeod finally learned that he'd be able to leave, and move on with his life. Come May 1, he could leave. His career would be in tatters, but he'd have a chance to begin moving on.
But then he received word that the separation date had been pushed back a few weeks. That's fine -- sometimes, things just take a bit longer. Then he heard word that his separation date was pushed back to May 30, a month after it was originally scheduled. And then, come mid-May, MacLeod received another note that he was now looking at a June 30 end-date.
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"I used to be personnel, it doesn't take 45 days to process a separation, it takes about one day," MacLeod wrote to Hair Balls. "I can't think of any good reason they are holding on to me this long other than to cook up some way to nullify my voluntary separation request. Welcome to the [TXANG]."
As it is, June 30 still stands as the final date of separation. That's the date when MacLeod's entire saga -- of a bungled investigation, of evidence withheld, of hacked emails and shifted charges -- could come to an end. At least, that's what he currently believes. But as MacLeod's defense JAG said, "My impression is that their intention is to inflict as much pain [on MacLeod] as possible in the process." And as the deadline continues to be pushed back, that goal seems that much more evident.
Read more in this week's cover story.