The Truth: What Happens When You Go AWOL

What You Don't Know About Being AWOL

AWOL (Absent Without Leave) this is the United States Military term for a soldier that has abandoned his place of duty. Everyone knows what this is if they didn't before they definitely knew about it after the a particular movie came out about it.

I'm going to tell you what most people do not know about being AWOL, what happens (the process), what it means to the soldier, punishments, and who it really effects.

This article is meant to be informative. In no way is this condoning AWOL or glorifying the issue. This is meant to inform the general public of a real, but otherwise unheard of offense.

If you are reading this and you are AWOL, my advice to you would be to turn your self in to the nearest military installation. If you can go back to the unit that you went AWOL from as soon as you can.

AWOL Apprehension
AWOL Apprehension

What it Means To the Soldier

When you decide to go AWOL you decide to leave you place of duty for more then 24 hours. Before you can even be listed as AWOL you must be away from you place of duty for 24 hours and one minute past the hour. So if you were supposed to show up for morning physical training at 0600 and you never arrived and you still have not returned to work after 0601, you will be considered AWOL.

Your unit will report you missing to the local finacial office and the Military Police station. A report will be done on you and you will be considered AWOL until you either turn yourself in or you are apprehended by civilian authorities.

The Process

 Now each Military installation has its own AWOL Apprehension unit in some way, shape, or form. This is where your unit that you went AWOL from reports you being gone too.

The first initial report will be after 24 hours no more and no less. Your second report that will be done up on you will be for the charge of desertion. The military considers you a deserter after a certain period of time, and that time period is defined as the soldier being gone for a total of thirty consecutive days. A warrant for you arrest will also be issued on you, so if you are driving and you get pulled over you will be arrested, and you will sit in the county jail until you can be picked up by the closest military authorities.

Also with that if your unit knows where you are and you are under the thirty day mark they can inform the MP station to tell them where you are. The MP's will coordinate with local law enforcement to come and pick you up without a warrant. Now, the local law enforcement has to agree to cooperate with the MP's, given that the MP's do not have authority off post.  

Your unit also files paperwork with the local financial office, to stop you pay as soon as you go AWOL. 

The Punishment

I will tell you now it is better for you if you turn yourself in. If you are picked up by civilian authorities your punishment you will receive will be worse.

You could serve up to a maximum of 1 year or later. Be separated out of the Army on a bad conduct discharge or dishonorable discharge.

Over all the person that will say if they want to pursue charges or not is the Company Commander of your unit. They could pursue for the max punishment or and Article 15 Field Grade or Company Level.

Who It Really Effects

I have had the unwanted pleasure of working with this close hand. This offense hurts the soldiers family more then the soldier him/herself. The family is the one who receives phone calls asking where you are. They are subject to accessory if they hide you. They are the ones who feel the hurt if you are put in jail. When you lose your pay they will feel the blunt of it.

You may find a job after you go AWOL, but sooner or later that warrant will catch up with you and you will be forced to do things you do not want to do. You will be yanked from the new life you built and your family is the ones left in the wind with a gaping mouth and a confused look wondering if you will be back and when.

If you are lucky you will serve a minimal amount of time, but I have seen families go broke because of this offense. Again if you are AWOL turn yourself in, get it over and done with the faster you are done the better it is for you and your family.

This article is overall what could happen. The overall judge of your fate is you current Company Commander and United States Military Court System.

If you have further Questions fill free to contact me via e-mail its in my profile.

Comments 96 comments

Tasha 13 months ago

What does it mean when you go awol from working in the government. For like an hour

Mike 13 months ago

My son is in basic at ft leonardwood. He has been moved to a holding co. And was told he commited a sharp violation. Im retired army should i go tbere i am not getting any answers.

Wrangler24 14 months ago

I joined the Army Reserves in 2007 and graduated Military Police AIT in 2008. I then returned from Missouri and attended two drills before going AWOL. I told them I was having mental issues due to the stress in basic and AIT and they asked me to see the Army's medical review board.At the time I wanted nothing to do with the Army so I refused to go and have since cut communications with my unit. In my last conversation with my 1LT, he said he would recommend a General Discharge under Honorable Conditions. It has been about 7 years since I've gone AWOL. I've gotten traffic tickets, purchased firearms, been through background checks and nothing turned up. The only DD214 I have is the one I got after finishing AIT. Why isn't the Army coming after me and is it possible for me to either rejoin the Army Reserves or join the local law enforcement in the future?

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jameswassinger 16 months ago from Untied States Author

@Dana Kiptoo: Call Fort Lee if you think he went AWOL. They would be able to help him.

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jameswassinger 16 months ago from Untied States Author

@Brian: Did you receive a DD214? Probably not if you went AWOL. You have no benefits as of right now. You are AWOL. With any benefit you will need to provide proof of service and right now you can't. You can't say or prove you are on active duty, and you can't say or prove you served because you did not receive a DD214.

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jameswassinger 16 months ago from Untied States Author

@a: Not sure. There are several things that may have happened or are going to happen. Best advice, call the installation where you went AWOL from to see what your status is. You can call to find out what they are doing or going to do.

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jameswassinger 16 months ago from Untied States Author

@Anonymus7: Why would you use your NG Military ID Card. If your husband is active duty you should have a dependent ID card. Use the dependent ID Card.

Most NG units do not bother with the AWOL procedures. You are not Federal when you are in the National Guard, unless on Title 10. It has been a few years, but last time I knew when a soldier goes AWOL from a NG unit the NG unit tries to contact them. After so many failed attempts they just kick him or her out.

I would call the NG S1 Unit and see what your status is. It wouldn't hurt to call and ask.

Anonymus7 16 months ago

I went AWOL from the national guard 8mths ago. I currently live on a military base with my husband and children. My husband got one of the gate MPs to put a block on my Driver Liscense so I am able to drive on and off post using just my DL without anything popping up. Note: I live one one of the largest military bases in a different state than I went AWOL from. My question is, if I go to the commissary here on the military instillation and scan my Military ID when checking out, will I still be able to shop there without getting in trouble? My Military ID expires in about 8mths from now.

17 months ago

I am awol from ait. They were chaptering me out. Chapter 11, and I left. What do you think will happen?

Brian 17 months ago

If you have completed your first term of enlistment of 4 years, reenlisted and then went AWOL, are you still able to receive GI BILL and VA loans based on completing the first term under good conditions?

Dana kiptoo 20 months ago

I think my husband went awol after being in bct. He went to fort lee for ait and just beforw he came home he was saying he didn't want to be married anymore. Well I found out he meet a women in ait. But he dont want to do weekend drills and he freaks out on everybody. Who do I call to get him help

anonymous 20 months ago

My son went awol Jan 20th, 2015 from Fort Hood, Tx

He is a good kid and he chose to go awol. I'm not sure why cause he won't talk to me. He just said it was doing his head in and it was driving him crazy. I'm so stressed out and hurt over this . I'd like to know what will happen to him if he don't turn himself in or if they catch him?

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jameswassinger 23 months ago from Untied States Author

Any military base.

Dude 23 months ago

I need to report where do I do that

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jameswassinger 2 years ago from Untied States Author

It's hard to say many are determined on a case by case basis. I would call the MP station or the unit to find out.

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jameswassinger 2 years ago from Untied States Author

I would call the MP station of base where you went AWOL to find an answer to this question.

@SingleMom 2 years ago

hey i was wondering i am a single mom i went awol after being raped and going to court over it i was pregnant with twins when i went to court i lost one of the babies and everything on top of every i couldn't take it no more! i left! my question is can i get a plane ticket to take my son to his grandmothers so i can get everything settled in before i turn my self in i have been awol for a year and 3 month! or will i get arrested at the airport?

173rd vet 2 years ago

I know of a female who was a lower enlisted soldier, whom had only been to her first unit for a few months, then she had went awol in may 2011. She was arrested in by the local authorities and was given 2 days to get back to fort Irwin California. She returned only to leave again without permission just a few weeks later. She has had a background check through income based housing, the same apartment housing she lives in to this day. Nothing came up about the awol/desertion in the beginning 2013. She has not had any paperwork though sent to her. Would she be wanted, or just other then honorably discharged?

Matt 2 years ago

Well I got experience of having an OTH for AWOL. I was so excited to join the Army and was sent to FLW in early 2010 and was halfway through BCT when I got injured with stress fractures and could not run. Ended up on profile and then got 3 weeks con leave. I went back after con leave and after about 4 weeks was sent to PTRP unit to heal and hopefully get back into training. I started with some back pain that kept getting worse and they carried out an MRI and I was then diagnosed with spinal arthritis and a tear in spinal cord which was not Army related but the military was what brought out the symptoms. I was told that it was an automatic medical discharge. So now all my hard work was for nothing and my home situation was rather bad. My Father in law passed away and my wife was left at home with a 17 month old son and pregnant with our second. She had no family around for support or help. Nobody was there who could help. She was booked in for an induction for the baby on a certain date in Novemeber and I was constantly being messed around about being allowed to go home then not allowed then allowed again. Then PTRP to hide their fail rate numbers started sending people back to their BCT units. It came to the point where she was going into hospital to have a baby and nobody at all was there for looking after our son. Foster care would have happened no doubt. So I went AWOL to be there for the birth and look after my son. Of course the drill sgt's told everybody in med board that I had fled the country and had a warrant out for arrest and was going to prison. Typical Army lies to manipulate. I had spoke to a relative who was a senior officer in the Army and even he said in my shoes he would have done the same and he told me what would happen. I will never be sorry for putting my kids first over being sat in a med board unit for months and months on end waiting to be discharged.

After 4 weeks I believe it was, a warrant was put out and within 2 hours of that, the police came to our home. I was not there but I handed myself in that afternoon to them and spent 7 days in county jail. It was humiliating and a terrible experience. After 7 days my recruiter SGT of all people came and got me and he took me to the airport and waited till I boarded my flight to FT.Knox. From there I was collected by an MP who was very professional and decent with me. I was transported in a prison van inside a cage to Knox and then booked in. Later booked into the section for AWOL soldiers and the staff were fantastic. They were very good people. Got to my bunk at 3am and up again at 5am and was there from that Friday night till the following Friday. I received an OTH in lieu of court martial. From then, only one person I was " friends " with would even speak to me. I had local shame in my community. However once people knew why, it was different. It is now 4 years on and I carry a lot of shame for it. I regret my actions but it was either that or my child in foster care. A very difficult situation. What also makes it different is that I am a British citizen. I made our life very tough for a few months. At one stage we had to go to a food bank just to survive. I lost my families health care, income and I lost any hope of benefits. There is not a day that passes where I do not regret my actions. Since then I have managed to turn my life around. We moved to the UK, I am at University and also run a small business. I am not so sure it would have worked out with an OTH in America. I cut all contact with everybody in America due to my AWOL episode. I have read countless posts on various sites about how it's not a big deal and life does go on with an OTH. It may do but the shame and the regret is a huge burden. I have paid over and over in my mind for it. I know I did right for my family but plain and simple, it was wrong and it is not who I am and that is why it hurts so much. If I could give one bit of advice to any soldier thinking of going AWOL. Don't do it. Guilt has destroyed me over it. I always think what if. If her Father had not died it would never have happened. But that is life.

mshields 2 years ago

My son was in army done basic training after school served a year in Afghanistan came home done several months going to his once a month training / work and all of a sudden he had failed a drug test . There was talk of getting kicked out of the army . Then one month he just stopped going . We have warned him that it's not a god thing to do no calls from his recruiter or sergeant none to them . What could happen to him he's moved out since then married and starting a good life etc but I worry

awol7yrs 2 years ago

I've been awol 7yrs now, I've been arrested by local police,had background checks run for jobs even told them I did serve in army, and even filled federal tax return. My contract with the army ended in 2009 and I went awol in 2007, they called all my family and friends looking for me in the first few months than just stopped, my question is why haven't I been detained for going awol? And can I return to the army and serve again or will I just go to jail?

Anthony 2 years ago

I am in the army reserve, since 2011, i stopped going to drill 5 months ago, and i wanted to if everything everyone is saying also affects me or is that just for active duty soldiers. What is the punishment for reserves that stop going to drill. Oh and i wanted to go on vacation to another country, will my passport have a warrant or say i am awol? Please help

Anonymous GF 2 years ago

I have a question that I really need the answer to. My boyfriend was in the army and he was stationed in Seattle. During this time he got into some trouble with some guys and ended up serving 4 years in prison. He is now in North Carolina and has graduated college and has a decent job. He gets home the other night and the police had been to his parents house with papers for his arrest. We don't know why or what is going on and it's driving me nuts. He turned himself in that same night and he is being held until he is transferred. What do you think will happen and why is this going on?

Richard 2 years ago

Was in basic training in '97 when the Honorable Bill Clinton was the Commander in chief. After 2 weeks all the privates were sent home for Christmas break. Came back to duty station in " Ft Sill" and 50% of my unit was AWOL! No battle buddy nothing. The rest of our unit went AWOL 2 days later. After 30 days we were all labeled " Deserters". I got an " OTH Discharge" and was told that this discharge means diddly squat! Remember u are not a soldier until u complete " basic training". Otherwise if u go AWOL/ Desert before basic training is over it means nothing! Put never in military if applying for civil service! Peace out everybody!!!!

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jameswassinger 2 years ago from Untied States Author

After receiving one of two options 1) you receive a fine or 2) they said, "You have the right to remain silent..." (keep in mind there is a different version of the Miranda rights for the military...they make you sign a form).

Nik 2 years ago

How will you know if the military is going to press charges on you if you let the soldier stay with you before they turned themselves in?

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jameswassinger 2 years ago from Untied States Author

@Sara Pepper...ya! Contact the local PD to let them know you have info about an individual with a federal warrant. If he has a warrant hebmay get picked up.

Else... Call nearest mp station to inform them of location of an WWol Am

Hope that heps!

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jameswassinger 2 years ago from Untied States Author

@Nikki not unless you willingly harboerd a federal felon.

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jameswassinger 2 years ago from Untied States Author

@Anonymous...well u can just not go. It's just state. I don't understand how the shut down affected your ship date. Why? Because the shut down was federal and government officials specifically stated milira would not be affected. If you close not to go they maybecwon't actively choose charges on you scine it's state.

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Sara Pepper 2 years ago from El Paso, Texas

I saw this and was very informative but im still a little lost in my own situation. My sons father after we separated never married was stationed in Hawaii not sure which base and has recently within the last month has gone awol. Or so he says. He's now living in town where he was originally stationed (ft. bliss) working here on a side job, we do have contact i do not know physical location only he's living with a military friend. He's being carele and is not seeing the big picture thinking he will not get caught. Im not sure if i should believe he did make a decision like that or if he's out or something. Is there someone or somewhere i can ask to check the status on him... And if he is awol I'm afraid I'll be in trouble since he told me...

Nikki 2 years ago

Will any charges be brought on the soldiers family if they turn themselves in?

Anonymous 2 years ago

So here is my problem. I have served 4 years in the marine corps infantry and was honorably discharged in 2007. I joined the National Guard in Feb, Now I was schedule to go to my MOS school in Oct but this shutdown stopped everything, Now i'm supposed to go in December. Problem is I've got a new job i've been at for a couple weeks with probably the best company i've ever seen. I know regular jobs cant fire you for Drill Duty, but what if your hired through a temp service? This place normally keeps you on as a temp for 3 years until your hired. I'm worried about losing this great oppurtunity with this job due to having to go to school with such a short amount of time in at the job and considering telling my chain of command I won't go. *yes i've already asked them to change the dates and they said no openings, Looking to see what my options are and decide which direction to take.

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jameswassinger 3 years ago from Untied States Author

@G. RippenYes, turn in any information that may be helpful

G. Rippin 3 years ago

My son went AWOL Dec 2011, stationed originally in Japan, then transferred back to LeJuene, his wife and kids were in Japan when he went for visit in Dec 2011 never returned. He is currently in Japan. Cannot talk him into turning himself in, do I have responsibility to contact Marines and provide any addresses I have for him? I am worried sick for him and his family that one day they will catch up to him and he will never see his wife or kids again. Family here is also worried we will never see him again.

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jameswassinger 3 years ago from Untied States Author

@Lg1707 just have her go to the nearest military installation. There are many in different countries. Just fly back. If she has a warrant they may pick her up at the airport, but doubtful. Even if she did get pick up she would only be detained until the MPs arrive to picker her up and escort her to the installation where she went AWOL from.

Lg1707 3 years ago

My gf went awol in 2010 because she was a homosexual and could not be open in the army now she is thinking about turning herself in but is not so sure since she is scared. She is also out of the us and wants to know where she can go to turn herself in? Or can she flight back to the us without being stopped by immigration and the. Turn herself in? Please help

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jameswassinger 3 years ago from Untied States Author

@Jane, sorry to hear about your situation. I have seen this exact situation numerous times. I know this is not what you want to hear, but there is a slight silver lining, which is he will be receiving military pay from the time he is in military custody until he is properly discharged or sentenced.

More then likely, he is waiting for his military escort to arrive to escort him to the installation. I am unsure because the last time I dealt with escorts or was involved with coordinating one the military was just allowing soldier to escort themselves to the installation and turn themselves in, so not to sure if this is the case or if he is actually waiting for a military escort to arrive.

He will arrive to the installation and will rejoin his unit to receive a punishment of some sort, that will end in either a dishonorable discharge from the military or a jail sentence of some sort. The punishment is entirely up to the current unit commander.

More then likely, you will hear from him once he is at the installation. Of course, if you feel he is not telling you enough or you do not trust what he is saying you can always contact the Military Police station and ask who is his company commander and then call the commander directly.

Jane 3 years ago

Ive been married for 11 years and was unaware that my husband was awol from the Army before we got married. Thursday 3 police officers showed up and took him, where he spent 1 week in county jail being held until the Army got him a plane ticket and sent him to Fort Knox. He was told to wait at the airport in Ky till 10pm (he arrived at 5pm) and I am waiting to find out what will happen to him. He served 4 years and reenlisted for 2 but left at a month of the 2 year reenlist. For anyone that is Awol out there, do not think this will not catch up to you. This does not only affect you but also your loved ones. You should deal with this while you have an option to turn yourself in for it.

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jameswassinger 3 years ago from Untied States Author

@elena, The sad fact one. If the paperwork was completed correctly and he is categorized correctly he should have a federal warrant for his arrest, so if he encounters a law enforcement agency for any reason he would be pick-up for the federal warrant plus any other charges. And "if" there is a court order for said support and he has not attempted to pay for 4 years you should contact the state enforcement agency, so they can draw it out of his tax refund. You would, sadly, have more luck with the enforcement agency on receiving any kind of results.

elena 3 years ago

My daughters father has been AWOL for 2 years he was stationed at fort huachuca,AZ his last known location was with his girlfriend in Tucson, AZ i want him located he hasn't paid support in 4 years. Who do i contact to have him apprehended

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jameswassinger 3 years ago from Untied States Author


It's a case-by-case basis. It ultimately comes down to what the commander decides to do. Either way he will most like receive some form of punishment may it be extra duty or a more severe punishment, but it's up to the CO and how far he would like to pursue it.

AshKS 3 years ago

I have a friend who went awol.. He told his sergeant that he wanted out of the military due to family issues. He was told no.. He was going to return after 30 days because he would've been dfr'ed by then. However, he decided to go back early. I'm just wondering if the family issues he was dealing with will affect his punishment.

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jameswassinger 3 years ago from Untied States Author

@debbie....are you asking if the soldier had "amnesia" after he went AWOL, what would happen to them? Well, contrary to popular belief. "Amnesia" , in real-life (i.e. not movies and television), generally doesn't cause a loss of self-identity. An individual suffering from "Amnesia" is typically lucid and know who he or she is, but may have trouble learning new information and forming new memories. Meaning, the individual is aware of one's self, and has no trouble recollecting previous memories or experiences. With this said, an SM would be punished accordingly, unless a medical professional says otherwise.

debbie 3 years ago

What if a soldier has gone awol and cant remember what has happen to them

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jameswassinger 3 years ago from Untied States Author

@ Karla, There is really nothing you can do. As long as you are telling his command what you know and any future information they cannot federally charge you with aiding and abiding a felon.

As far as reaching out to your husband...I would assume you would not be able to contact him, but he could contact you. Did he buy the ticket with a debt or credit card ? Did he take a debt or credit card with him; if so has there been any recent activity on any of his cards? Maybe one is a hotel or some sort of shelter you could call.

I can tell you the Military Police or any other federal agency are not actively looking for him; that is what the warrant is for. The unit is right, the unit submits paperwork that changes his duty status, but the change is not instant and 90% of the time the unit does not complete the entire process.

A warrant is not issued until he is gone for a full 30 days. Anything less than the 30 day mark he is considered AWOL.

And it matters if he is active duty or just on title 10 orders.

Hope that helps...let me know if you have any more comments or questions

Karla Cruz 3 years ago

I'm really worried my husband had a week vacation from dec 24 2012 was supposed to return back to is unit jan 1 2013 instead he bought a flight ticket to the Dominican Republic to leave dec 31 2012...He left to that country without telling his sergent but then again my husband call his sergent telling him he had lost all his documents wich is all a lie know I got his sergent and commanders calling me all the time asking me for him his sergent just told me he's AWOL and he has a warrant...I'm really worried.

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jameswassinger 3 years ago from Untied States Author

@RFWAVELENGTH: Interesting....just choose which federal offense is the is your scale of justice. If you want to spend more time in jail go AWOL and comment identity theft, or you can just turn yourself in and just be processed out of the military, or at a min. a few months in jail. As children we are taught to not lie and to live with the consequences of our actions. Here is a productive message...."If you are AWOL be an adult. You know you did wrong, don't lie, and face the consequences of your actions....simple. " Here is another one for the many who like writing stupid comments like this one..."It's to easy to do the wrong thing, and to hard to do the right thing!"

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jameswassinger 3 years ago from Untied States Author

I am answering this 8 days after the fact, sorry if this is to late. I will start by saying I am not surprised the arresting party has next to no information for a few reasons 1) the military, depending on the department, well, the communication plain is near or next to nothing. The arresting party knows only what the federal warrant tells them, and in this unfortunate situation, it tells them your spouse has a federal warrant and needs to be arrested. The arresting party will not allow your spouse to post bond because the military places a hold on service member who are picked-up by any civil authority. Depending on your location (i.e. the distance between where he is held and the nearest military installation) will determine how long he will be in county jail. If you live a considerably long distance away I would assume he would most likely be there for 3-5 days.

Without to much background information on the issue I cannot give exact answers only generalized, but you can get an attorney who specializes in military law or he can receive free legal council when he is presented back to his unit. See, once the military has him they process him back to his original unit where he went AWOL. Then the present commander decides what route to take (i.e. choosing to begin processing him out or taking punitive action). Most of the time, again this is generalizing, the service member is processed and if the commander deems him a flight risk they may place him in what is call "pre-trial confinement" if this happens and a trial does, in fact commence, he may receive punitive action, but they may say dishonorable discharge with time served. I have seen cases like this and most of the time one of two things may happen 1) the commander will choose to keep control of the deserter and process him out or take punitive action with the end result of your spouse spending a few months, a year, or a few years in a federal prison and a dishonorable discharge, or 2) he will be placed in pre-trail confinement and the commander may choose to or take punitive action with the end result of your spouse spending a few months, a year, or a few years in a federal prison and receive a dishonorable discharge.

Keep in mind that while he is in federal custody he is receiving military pay. Once, he is sentenced (if he is even sentenced) the pay will stop. Once he is discharged the pay will stop.

I hope this helps in any way. If you have any questions or something is unclear fill free to ask.

RFWAVELENGTH 3 years ago

There are ways to do it right. First of all, your fingerprints will have to be permanently removed. This can be don with sandpaper and a mild acid solution. Then, a new identity will have to be established. Get supporting documents so that you can obtain a driver's license under an assumed name. Illegal immigrants to this all of the time. It will be tough to leave your family, friends and your entire past life behind, but it is what needs to be done if you are to do this right.

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Bradleytlee 3 years ago

I'm writing in desperation. My partner of 4 years was arrested at our home Thursday night, the 8th. This was before we met and he told me and his family he was medically discharged for migraines and depression. He was 20/21 years old at the time and still in the closet. He was also a prescription drug addict seeking help, which is the reason he joined the army. We are shocked and not sure what to do. All the county police department says they can tell us is he has no bond, the military police will be coming to transport him, but they can't tell me when that will take place or where they'll be taking him. We've been told to hire an attorney that specializes in military, and we also been told he can be appointed an attorney. Nobody has spoken to him since they came for him which was almost 48 hours ago. Please help me. He is a good man, who made a very stupid decision, without thinking of the very serious consequences. Anything you may be able to suggest or offer is greatly, greatly appreciated. His name is Sean. Thank you.

Very sincerely,

Brad Lee

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

You could try, but they may see it. I am not sure. If you have been stopped by the police you have not been listed as DFR, but it does not mean you have not been listed as AWOL. Meaning, there is still an open case pertaining to your AWOL status.

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

You would have to contact the installation where you went AWOL. Specifically contact their FOIA office and request any records pertaining to the incident. Once you obtain the records review them to see if how they filed the charges and what the disposition was.

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

You are correct! This article is from a Military Police law enforcement officers prospective. As with any non-criminal and criminal legal issue I would encourage, and sure hope an individual would seek legal advice before making any a serious decisions (i.e. turning yourself in). I state this many of time in previous responses. Thank you for providing the above mentioned resource. I have reviewed the suggested resource and find it to be a somewhat credible resource. The suggested resource's disclaimer even states: "Important Disclaimer:

1. It is against the law to go AWOL or to remain AWOL.

2. It is against the law to refuse to obey a lawful order to deploy or to miss a movement.

3. This website is of an informational nature and is not intended to provide “legal advice” that would be relevant to a specific situation. Please do your own research (a good place to start is with the links to the military regulations provided on the GI Rights Hotline website) and/or consult an attorney in your area.

4. Following the law might violate your conscience."

So again, it's important to seek legal assistance if you think you are charged or going to be charged with any violations of the US laws.

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

I know for Active Army they can no official discharge you without you present.

junior 4 years ago

hi i was in the army i went awal from ait like about 7 years now i bin stopped bye police and even traveled out of the country but i miss the army i want to join again do you think if i talk to a recruiter and start over with out telling them that i was in the army and went awal.

army2020 4 years ago

? i went awol back in 05 and turned myself in in 09. went back to my unit never got an article 15 or nothing. i got a genral discharge under honerable conditions. is this a felony because i would like to become a police officer some day.

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jmbranum 4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

With all due respect, this article does not tell the whole story.

Yes, AWOL soldiers should return to military control to get their situations resolved, but they should be prepared for it with good mitigating evidence.

A much more detailed article (written for attorneys and GI Rights counselors but useful to lay people too) on the best way to legally resolve an AWOL can be found at:

Lastly, for any readers out there who are AWOL, please don't believe the lies. There is a hope to get get this behind you and to be free of the Army. Good luck!

Empressive85 4 years ago

I was in the most ridiculous reserve unit I joined after active duty thinking it would be a good opportunity. They were giving me the run around about my bonus plus I got in a car accident was out of a car could not return to full duty they were uncooperative about my situation so I haven't been back and that was about 4 years ago. I heard that I am DFR. Can they discharge me without me signing any paper work my contract is up in 2013

richard 4 years ago

I just read this. And all I can say is wow. I was awol for 5 years. A warrant was never issued until 3 months ago. I'm back at fort riley getting oth. Best thing to any awol people, turn yourself in. Its not that bad. Just a lot of waiting around to get out processed. Just make sure if you do go to your unit bring money because finance may not pay you. If you are lucky your unit won't want you back and you will go to fort knox or fort sill and be home within a week. If your unit wants you back to discharge you themselves expect a long wait. I've met people who have been here from awol for 5 months waiting to leave.

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

@jbourne & Anonymous

There have been instances where unit commanders never turn the paperwork in or the MPs never received or lost the paperwork, so this is not unheard of. There is usually not going to be any record of you, or shouldn't be. If there is it might come back on you...not sure. It is safe to say if you are working as a ofc. then you are more then likely good to go. There will be no DD 214 you did not exit the military properly, so the proper paperwork could not be generated. As far as, a discharge...more then likely it is OTH, or nothing at all.

Anonymous 4 years ago

I went AWOL 5 years ago and since then have held multiple local & state government jobs including my current job as a police officer. I'm not sure if the paperwork got lost or my commander never reported it but i know my contract would have ran out last year anyway so I'm hoping it never catches up to me. If it does then oh well it was meant to be, just hope I don't get locked up with people ive arrested...

jbourne 4 years ago

I enlisted in 2005, finished Infantry Basic, Airborne, and then went to my assigned unit. After a week of processing, I was assigned to my particular unit, and then went AWOL 3 days later. Total time was roughly 5.5 months in service.I had a lot of personal stuff going on, and basically ran away from the Army.

I received a number of calls from my NCO but never answered. It was kind of an "out of sight, out of mind" situation for me.

My entire unit was deployed to assist with hurricane Katrina except a dozen people or so when I arrived for in-processing. When my Battalion Commander returned from New Orleans, roughly 30 days after I had left, he left a voice mail saying I had been dropped from rolls, and that my paperwork would be sent through the AWOL process, and that I would have a warrant for my arrest.

I lived in fear for a while. IN 2010, when my 5 year contract was to be up, I received a letter from the DOD saying my healthcare had been dropped since I was no longer active duty. It was dated the day after my ETS date. I found that rather interesting.

I have been pulled over once, no problems. I have passed a number of back ground checks, and still nothing. I have even volunteered with the local PD since then, having gone through a poly graph ( I denied being in the armed services), and back ground investigation. I have contacted the Archives center requesting any paperwork on my self. The only paperwork they have on file, is my physical paperwork from MEPS, and nothing from basic or my assigned unit. Its's as if I was never enlisted.

Is it possible I received an OTH or Admin discharge? But wouldn't the archives center have that on file? Do you get any paperwork, or a DD-214 for an OTH or Admin discharge?

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

@MJC thank you for your

comments and sharing your story.

MJC 4 years ago

People these days think they can choose their own consequences. My sister has gone AWOL and nobody can find her...she wanted to join the army, my brother has been in the army for years, and told her not to, many people told her not to, but she wanted to, so went ahead. She told us that "she has the right to choose what she does in this life, and nobody can tell her otherwise...blah blah blah." I tried explaining to her that she is right, she does, but she does not have the right to choose her own consequences. She made the choice to join, now must deal with the consequences. People really need to grow up!

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

Before you go to the local police department or sheriffs office to complete a background check call Fort Hood's AWOL Apprehension team (or the nearest military installation), and ask them if the government is tracking a warrant on you. I used to receive calls like this we would check the name, and if there was a warrant out we would make travel arrangements for them to come in. 99% of the time they would, but there was still the 1% who chose not to.

JD 4 years ago

I joined active duty Army when i was 18 (female) and i first went AWOL when i was in AIT and two weeks later they picked me up from my parents house and i went back into AIT got a article 15 and a fine then when i finished AIT and was stationed at fort hood i immediately left went AWOL again and have not been gone now for 8 years. I think i have gotten away with it because i did not move back to my home state and have not been in contact with my family or anyone in the army and i got married had my last name changed and have not held a job since leaving the Army. Before i proceed i want to say that at 18 i think that is a huge decision to make at the time not knowing anything about the military except the lies my recruiter told me. I mean how many people have done stupid thoughtless things when they were young and wish they didn't? I'm sick of all the judgmental people on the internet saying how you are a piece of crap now. I have never done drugs or criminal acts i am a christian i help out with charities and i'm a good wife and because i signed up to help out my country and realizing this was not for me come to find out i am now a slave to the government and i have all my rights taken away and i'm suddenly wanted? but the army doesn't have to be honest or hold up there end of the contract. I have met soldiers who signed up for one MOS and the army decided they were going to change there MOS. If you don't like it, tough! Can't leave if you don't like the job. That sounds like slavery, but i still support the soldiers, respect there sacrifices and love my country. Now enough ranting... i recently decided i want to go back to school and become a nurse (or be in the medical field) in life and my husband and me would like to adopt a child BUT... i would have to get a background check to do both things and i'm afraid i might have a warrant or something. I'm starting to feel like my life is ruined.

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

I have seen similar situations. The fact is this, the Army is the easiest job the Army tells you where to be, when to be there, and what to wear. If he was told where to be, what time to be there, and what to where he should've received the proper paperwork clearing him out of the Army. If there was a warrant issued then he was improperly cleared out or just did not clear and left. There is always paperwork.

Now that he is in custody the Army has already placed a hold on him. Meaning, he will stay in jail until a unit or an MP team picks him up, or they may give him a pass stating we will release you on good faith provided that you show up when and where we tell you to, so we can pick you up and discharge you from the military.

The best thing to do as of now is to contact a local military installation and speak with the AWOL app. team. They are more equip to guide you through the AWOL process.

nattie 4 years ago

So my bf went awol he was picked up 2yrs ago and he did his time 20 days later they let him go. With no papers. So now last we got into an accident and they ran his name he was being held for fugitive of justice. He now in the county. If the MP don't pick him with in 5 days will they let free? What should he do? Help pls

MichelleP 4 years ago

An update to what is going on. Husband is out and they flew him back to post on Tuesday. He was never under arrest but just being held. Because he turned himself in they got him a ticket and he has no criminal charges against him and no warrant. There will be a court marshall, but he is looking into going to legal for them to go ahead and do a discharge rather than go through a court marshall. Life has been crazy since all of this. He is currently under 72 hours post restriction which most people get a lot worse done to them. He is going to mental health because he does need some help.

MichelleP 4 years ago

Someone called and told the police in another county or that is what they are trying to say. Im not sure if someone we know or someone close to us called thinking they were helping out. I had him so close to being back and then now this. Im not sure if there is even a warrant or if there was one. He notified his platoon or troop SGT that he was coming back and they told us to bring him in on Monday. I live in such a small town that everyone knows everyone so I was trying to get the police officer to let me just drive him back to the post he was stationed at. The chaplain told us to meet him there. They were working on trying to find out what was going on, but I dont feel that they are actually doing anything. So now that they have picked him up is this going to be a felony charge? Do I need to contact JAG or a military attorney?

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

His 1sg cannot say, we are not coming to get him. Why did the police come? Were they executing a warrant? If he is in jail on a desertion warrant the closest MP station has already been notified. They will either pick him up or release him on a pass to go directly from jail to the closest MP station. You or your husband should be talking directly to the MPs if the unit will not work with you.

MichelleP 4 years ago

My husband has been awol since Dec 2011. Well I have not been supportive of his decision at all. I finally had enough and packed all of mine and our sons belongings to move back to my parents. I got him to come kicking and screaming. Well we were taking him back on Monday to turn him in. He had been talking to his chaplain and he even said to come on Monday. This morning I awoke to our local police from my hometown having to take him in. Now I dont know how long they will keep him or when or even if they are going to come get him. His 1st SGT said he wasn't coming or going to send anyone. So now what happens? What do we do?

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

The detention center will hold him or her until 1)the mps come and get him or her, or 2) the mps release him on what they call a provisional pass. This pass allows him or her to leave the arresting agency to go directly to the nearest military installation, or where the pass specifies. I highly doubt a civilian authority is not allowing him or her mail, phone, visitors, and religious materials. If this is the case this is unconstitutional, and you should look into legal counsel. Either way you should look into legal counsel. Hope that helps...

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

When a civilian detention center receives and deserter from the United States Gov. they will also receive what is call a hold, so even if the subject is clear of all civilian charges the civilian detention center must hold the subject until the closest MP station can pick him or her up. If he or she is a deserter from the Armed forces he or she has been charged as a deserter from the United State Armed Forces. If he or she is still in the detention center he or she has been formally arrested and charged.

tfield 4 years ago

He has been held for over a week and no one can tell him anything on his status. He is being denied mail, visitors and religious material.

tfield 4 years ago

My stepson turned himself in to local police in Virginia when he found out there was a federal warrant for desertion from Kansas. Can anyone tell me how long they can legally hold him? He has not been charged, arraigned or even formally arrested.

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

@Simon W... again, interesting...If they wanted free will they should NOT have signed the contract...

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

@Simon W...interesting...everyone is entitled to their own opinion...I guess.

Simon W 4 years ago

Just to say good luck to you all Whyever you left or chose NOT to fight anymore - IMO? That's YOUR business & if the army Won't let you people have your OWN lives & choice over them? Then sooner or later I suspect they'll learn the Hard way by Force of Numbers they HAVE to keep out & leave you your freedom of choice sometimes............

joe hawaii 4 years ago

ok i guess i'm good as i did make out of the country, but never have been back since then, just worried it will be a problem when i get back. thx

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

No. I think your good. Have you had contact with law enforcement in the past 4 years? If the answer is yes, and they did not arrest you for an outstanding federal warrant for desertion than you are good to go.

joe hawaii 4 years ago

Thx for the post mr jameswasingger. What if u don't even show up for bt? I did swear in at the pearl harbor recruiting office and was scheduled for bt in december 08. So am i awol for 4 years now?

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

@static520 I just re-read your comment. Are you sure you signed-up for NG and not regular Army. I have never heard of the NG automatically signing someone up for the regular Army. The NG is state the regular Army is federal.

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

Thank you static520 for sharing your experience.

static520 4 years ago

Well i went AWOL from basic and was enlisted as NG. I cut all ties to the military. After a couple months I received a form from the DOD telling me I was no longer in the NG but now in the Active Army. About a year later I was arrested after a minor traffic stop for being AWOL. I sat in county jail for about 4 days till MP's from ft.Knox came to pick me up. Drove with them to kentucky from Northern Indiana sat at the PCF and waited around a week to get a OTH discharge. Now I have a hell of a time getting a job if they do background checks. This was about 4 yrs ago.

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

Ya, you can try requesting information through your local Freedom of Information Act office (FOIA).

Jennifer 4 years ago

I know he wasn't lying about being in the reserves but I think he maybe lying about someone telling him that they never had a record of him being there. He does not want to be in the army reserves anymore so I don't know the truth anymore. Is there anyway I can look this up?

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

Sounds like he is lying about even being in the Army Reserves. Why anyone would do that is beyond me.

I know the Army records management system has misplaced paperwork, but I have never heard of them misplacing a whole personnel file before. I would check into that something sounds wrongs. Someone is lying somewhere or hiding something.

jennifer 4 years ago

I know someone who is in the army reserves and has not been to drill since December he called in every month he claims he tried calling his unit commander and they claim he is not in the system and never had any records of him being in the army. Could this be true? To me it sounds like he should get an awol but its just the reserves so it could be different. I've caught him in a lot lies lately so is don't trust his word anymore

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

That's because he was in the national guard. There is no real in and out processing. In the regular Army it's easier to control an SM's. It is a life style every day all day. Not one weekend a month two weeks a year. In the guard there is a contract, but it is from the state it is not federal. I am sure it may have been a little different if the SM who went AWOL from the Guard was on title 10 and was already in a mob status.

yambo 4 years ago

im in army national guard. my buddy went awol from my unit and after 9 mnths got a general discharge and was fine. no repercussions.

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jameswassinger 4 years ago from Untied States Author

The sad fact is that the unit can and have full legal right to change your duty status to present for duty to absent without leave after you being gone for 24 hours. For example if you had a report time of 0630 and did not show, due to, mechanical issues, you technically have until 0630 the next day to report or they mark you as AWOL.

Coby 4 years ago

My truck broke down and called my unit and told them I wouldn't be back until today sometime they called me this morning and told me that if I'm not back by cob today they were reporting me as AWOL can they do that?

Liberty_Fallacy 5 years ago

Hey guys, thanks for putting this up, people should definitely know what they are about to get into because unfortunately the side-effects of being AWOL are not really discussed in depth.

In my case, however, I was "AWOL" for about two years, and since I didn't graduate from AIT and was well past the 30 day mark, I was immediately discharged with an other than honorable, which was easily upgraded to honorable after six months. This might be information worth knowing as well. I willfully turned myself in at the Canadian border, was completely cooperative and non-confrontational, and was out-processed out of Knox within a week and a half...

Also my family only received two letters from my chain of command (my LT.), no phone calls or knocks on the door, saying that if I didn't turn myself in all my family benefits would be cut off - but since I didn't have any dependents it really didn't matter in my case.

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jameswassinger 6 years ago from Untied States Author

D.G. Smith thank you for the comment. I to served as an MP for a time, and was assigned to an AWOL/APP job. It is an unfortunate mistake that sometimes leads to a life of unwanted hardship thank you again for the comment.

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D.G. Smith 6 years ago

Very accurate info. I served as an MP, it can be a real tragedy when a good person makes a foolish mistake. Often times if a soldier has had a good record to that point a Company commander will use his discretion. It’s better to try and convince him you just had a ‘brain fart’ and did something stupid then face a court

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