MRFF’s Legal Counsel, Don Rehkopf, Jr., Esq., Corrects Stars and Stripes:

In response to the Stars and Stripes’ article here,  Don Rehkopf emailed the following addressed to the publication:

   By way of introduction, I am the MRFF’s legal counsel on the matters pertaining to AF Reserve Chaplain (Capt) Hernandez. I spent 5 years on active duty with the AF JAGC and another 23 years in the active AF Reserves, so I have both professional and personal knowledge of how the AF Reserves operate. We filed our complaints with the DoD/IG because MRFF wanted an independent versus “in house” investigation of Chaplain Hernandez and his chain-of-command.

   After normal business/duty hours last evening and after I’d left my office, I was first advised by the DoD/IG’s office via an email that while I had filed our complaints concerning Chaplain Hernandez with their office, that they had delegated the actual investigation to AF/IG investigators, which according to the DoD/IG are still pending. That was the first that I or anyone at MRFF knew that AF/IG investigators were handling these complaints. What if anything they are doing is another matter, because I was in contact with AF Reserve Command’s Staff Judge Advocate as early as last April, and he was provided with our initial Complaint against Chaplain Hernandez then, as well as a “courtesy copy” of our second complaint against Hernandez filed by MRFF last week. Why the AF Reserve Command claimed ignorance of the investigations to you is something only they can respond to, but the “Command” itself has had actual knowledge of MRFF’s complaints against Chaplain Hernandez for some 5 months now. 

   As I now understand the process being used here – again, something that neither I nor Mikey Weinstein knew of before – is that the DoD/IG referred the MRFF complaints to the AF/IG where AF/IG investigators are supposed to be doing an investigation, which will ultimately go back up the chain to the DoD/IG for their approval / disapproval / or further investigation. I can confirm based upon my communications with the DoD/IG’s office earlier this week that MRFF’s complaints herein are still open and being processed. 

   Finally, let me correct something from your article in today’s S&S that is not correct. You stated:  “It also is further complicated by the fact that Hernandez is a reserve chaplain, meaning most days, he is a civilian.”  That is not accurate.  When a person is commissioned as an Officer of the United States, that commission changes ones legal status from being a civilian to that of a commissioned officer.  One remains a commissioned officer at all times unless one of 3 things happen: (1) you resign your commission; (2) you are administratively discharged from the Officer corps; or (3) you are court-martialed for an offense and sentenced to be dismissed from the Officer corps.  Thus, Chaplain (Capt) Hernandez is and remains a commissioned officer 24/7 and, while he may not be performing military duties by-and-large, he is not a civilian. Whether or not Chaplain Hernandez understands this is unclear, but to claim that on “most days, he is a civilian” is not accurate. While he pretextually attempts to hide behind this pseudo-distinction, viz., “civilian” versus “reservist,” it is a non-existent and false attempt to shield his actions, actions which he in his biographical link refers to his Reserve Chaplain’s status, from legal scrutiny.

 

/S/  Don

DONALD G. REHKOPF, JR., Esq.

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