Marine Sgt. Gary Stein served his country for nine years, and then was released from the Marine Corps with an other-than-honorable discharge because of his refusal to relent in his political speech on Facebook. Stein used the social media outlet to berate President Obama and continued to do so even after his command asked him to curtail the comments. Stein is now outraged about the Marine’s new public-service announcement concerning social media.
Using Stein’s case as a prime example, the PSA talks about the career risks involved using social media to criticize policies made by the President and others in the service member’s chain of command. Stein disapproves of this campaign, stating that the Marine Corps should not try to curtail speech that represents themselves and not their branch of service.
Especially during an election year, the Marine Corps outlines specific guidelines on how service members should conduct themselves in political environments. According to Marine Corps Order 5370.7B, an active duty Marine may make monetary contribution to a campaign and attend partisan and nonpartisan meetings or rallies while out of uniform. The Marine Corps allows political activity, as long as the individual distances themselves from the Corps, often a difficult task when many individuals live on base and discuss politics with friends (other Marines).
The Marine Corps did not inform Stein of the PSA, even though he is currently in the process of appealing his discharge. The PSA was first published on Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point’s website, but has since been taken down.