Black National Guardsman made to wear chain may reenter officer track

WASHINGTON – A Black soldier forced to wear a chain as discipline will be able to reenter officer candidate school after the Maryland National Guard announced Wednesday it would not challenge the finding that Sgt. Bruce Weaver was discriminated against.

In a decision for the National Guard Bureau last month, Bernard Doyle found that Weaver had substantiated his claims of discrimination and harassment “based upon his race” when he was in officer candidate school in 2015. The bureau called the discipline “the most humiliating punishment imaginable” for a Black soldier. Doyle said Weaver should be offered the chance to complete the course or other means to compensate him and recommended that Maryland consider disciplinary action against officials responsible for the discrimination, according to a copy of the decision obtained by USA TODAY.

The Maryland National Guard will request an exception to the age limit of 42 for soldiers to commission as officers, Maj. Kurt Rauschenberg, a spokesman for the Maryland National Guard, told USA TODAY on Wednesday. Weaver, who filed his initial complaint in 2017, is 44. 

Bruce Weaver is a Black National Guardsman who was forced to wear a chain as punishment.  Weaver and his wife, Kaye Evans-Lutterodt, are parents to 18-month-old Oliver Weaver.

“The Maryland National Guard carefully reviewed the hearing examiner’s recommendations and is requesting an exception to policy from the National Guard Bureau that may grant an age-restricting waiver for the Soldier to re-enroll in Officer Candidate School,” Rauschenberg said in an email.

Weaver declined to comment on the decision by the Maryland National Guard.

Weaver’s case, first detailed by USA TODAY, dates to November 2015 when he was ordered to carry a heavy chain for three days as punishment for leaving a training site without authorization, a charge he disputed. In 2017, Weaver filed a formal complaint of discrimination after he was removed from the officer candidate program for failing to progress. His complaint triggered a series of investigations by Maryland officials, each of which rejected his claims. 

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