MSPB Board Rules In Whistleblower Case in Favor of Military Wife

According to Defense Department directive no. 1300.22, the remains of military service members are to be handled with “dignity, respect, and care of the deceased.”

On July 17, 2006, Army Sgt. 1st Class Scott R. Smith was blown apart by a roadside bomb in Iraq, but his remains were thrown out with the garbage along with his wife’s dignity. She complained when she learned of what had happened to her husband’s ashes; what happened next is something no one should ever have to go through.

Whistleblower Retaliation

After publicly protesting the dumping of her husband’s partial remains in a Virginia landfill, Garilynn Smith was denied a promotion by the Army.

In 2011, the Washington Post revealed that in 2008, “the Air Force dumped the incinerated partial remains of at least 274 American troops in a Virginia landfill, far more than the military had acknowledged, before halting the secretive practice.”

Ms. Smith was also involved in the publishing of other articles reporting the Air Force’s egregious behavior. These articles were published shortly after she applied for an executive assistant position with the Army.

“Almost immediately after these news stories appeared,” the ruling states, Ms. Smith noticed a marked change for the worse in her job search.

The arsenal’s supervisors’ complaints about Smith’s sick leave and telework requests are also “not supported by the factual record,” Administrative Judge Daniel F. McLaughlin wrote in his 2017 opinion.

MSPB’s Ruling

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), a quasi-judicial agency that considers disputes between federal agencies and employees, ruled that the Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County, N.J. should appoint Ms. Smith to the executive assistant position she applied for. They also ruled to give her back pay with interest and benefits to make up for the retaliation she experienced from the Army.

Smith began at the arsenal in 2007 and was an administrative assistant from 2010 to 2012. However, she no longer works there and doesn’t even want the job anymore.

The Pentagon said in a statement that it’s considering appealing the MSPB’s decision.