February 8, 2021
MRFF was contacted via email on February 6, 2021 by a client regarding what was essentially a ‘captive audience’ situation for sectarian religious music being played on a U.S. Department of Defense contracted transportation service:
I’m currently in the process of applying to join the (military branch name withheld). For that purpose, I went to the Military Entrance Processing Station in Milwaukee, WI for a physical on the (date withheld) of January of this year. While on the bus which transported applicants from the hotel to the MEPS, I quickly realized that the radio was tuned to a Christian radio station, due to the repeated speaking of the name Jesus. Being half asleep, I didn’t think anything of it at first but roughly around 6 AM (I do not recall exact time down to the minute), I realized just how inappropriate that was – While I am a (name of Christian denomination withheld), matters spiritual are intensely personal and private, and as I’m seeking to take an oath to support and defend the Constitution which prohibits establishment of a religion on the part of the Government, I was taken aback that this occurred on the very first morning I ever was in the care of the Department of Defense. While I can’t claim offense, fidelity to the Law forces us to speak up lest somebody else be silent due to fear of retaliation [emphasis added].
MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein immediately contacted the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command regarding this complaint and the inappropriate nature of this activity by a DoD/MEPS contractor. After initial contact with the MEPS Command by Mikey regarding this issue, the following email confirmation was received on February 8, 2021 from a representative of the contractor that subcontracted the transport of future and potential applicants to the Milwaukee MEPS:
We were alerted by USMEPCOM on the incident that transpired on one of the trips to the Milwaukee MEPS where the driver was playing religious music and or service program. This is not a practice that should have taken place, and we would like to extend our sincere apologies to all whom may have been exposed to the situation. Furthermore, I personally notified the transportation company and express our disappointment with the lack of judgment the driver displayed.
MRFF’s client in this matter quickly responded to this action via email:
As I already work in government service (and having caught the bug is why I’m joining the Armed Forces), I knew that it was extremely inappropriate and downright illegal. However as anyone who has ever worked for the Government knows, DoD is a massive behemoth and as just a mere applicant, I had no idea who to go to. I tried going to one of my Senators, but they wouldn’t have been able to protect my identity – I don’t want a reputation as a troublemaker before I’ve even sworn in after all!
I emailed the MRFF’s info address and not even 5 minutes later, I was astonished when my phone rang and there you were on the other end. I was not expecting that. But we went over the details of where and when it occurred, and the very next business day, after you made quite a few emails and phone calls to MEPCOM, a written apology from the vendor that MEPCOM uses for transportation services was obtained and assurances were given that this would not happen again.
Now I myself am a (Christian denomination withheld), so I can’t say that I personally was offended, but MEPS is already unpleasant enough and I can’t imagine how a non-Christian applicant would have felt in that environment.
Mikey, you resolved the situation quickly and to everyone’s satisfaction.
MRFF thanks the Senior Enlisted Advisor for USMEPCOM, Senior Chief Petty Officer Nate Hon, and James A. Murray, the Chief Operations Officer with Hotel Contracting Services (HCS), who subcontracted the transportation company, for ordering the Christian music stopped and doing the right thing.