It is okay you need to know how to go AWOL and get away with it, but it is not always worth it. Absence Without Leave (AWOL) or Unauthorized Absence (UA) is when you leave the military without authorization. It is also known as desertion, which is a serious matter that can result in serious consequences.
Perhaps, you are going AWOL to your spouse who had threatened divorce or just no longer feel you can be a serviceman. The obvious question would probably be, “Why didn’t you just put in for leave?” Perhaps, you tried but the CO (Commanding Officer) denied it.
If no training was forthcoming, meaning you were essentially idle, it would be okay to request that leave.
Generally, going AWOL is relatively easy. Just leave the boot camp—that’s it.
Unfortunately, living with going AWOL is an entirely new story. A division of the military police would eventually be tasked to retrieve you.
What happens when you go AWOL?
When you go AWOL, your supervisor will try to contact you since you are not on duty. If they can’t contact you, the commander and 1st Sergeant are notified, who in turn, notify the military law enforcement.
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Your family ‘back home’ will be contacted, as well as all known associates will try to find out your whereabouts. In many cases, the military hunts you down fairly quickly. An excellent 1st Sergeant will find you, for example, as in the case of Travis Airman charged with AWOL.
After 24 hours or thereabout, the military notifies civilian police if you do not show up. They will check to be sure you are not in the hospital or jail.
If a military base is close to your home of record, the military will send someone to look for you there.
If the police stop you for anything, including a broken taillight, and run a background check, it will show your AWOL status. The police will detain and turn you over to the military.
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There’s a typical belief in the military that the longer you are away, the harsher the punishment. AWOL over 30 days or more will you have classified a deserter—a bad mojo with harsh consequences like Airman sentenced for desertion.
Even if you stay out of the public eye and stay on the run for a long time, they never stop looking. Unfortunately, there is no statute of limitation on the desertion of servicemen.
How to go AWOL and get away with it
If your mind is made up for this challenging task, do the following for a chance to get away with it AWOL:
Leave without authorization
Just walk out the gate and do not come back—you’re AWOL. While off duty, you can decide not to come back.
Hide from the law as long as possible
Keep out of the public eye and stay on the run for as long as possible. This takes a bit of luck though because they never stop looking for you, plus, there is no statute of limitation on desertion.
The idea is to get out, stay out, and be away from anything that has to do with the military as long as you can. You would get punished a lot worse if you go AWOL for some weeks than if you do for a decade. Perhaps, waiting at least 3-4 years before getting nabbed will reduce the consequences.
The chance is that nobody will be there who even remembers you, so it will not be personal. You will be held for some days and out-processed.
In fortunate cases, going AWOL will not have you sent to Ft. Leavenworth, owe any kind of community service or time to the government, or even get you a bad conduct discharge. However, you will get a general discharge after out-processing.
Make up an excuse
If you get caught going AWOL, you could make an excuse like “I am suicidal”. Perhaps, this will get you a medical discharge instead of an “other than honorable” discharge.
Or, you can make excuse about an adult engagement such as “I was in bed with three women or men, but it was already 0700 when I woke up and knew I was late. I knew what to do, but it was already late, and this will never happen again.”
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You can be given a few hours of work every night for some weeks or any other punishment. Let your honesty or logic dictate that you need to be given a break.
Hire a military defense lawyer
Military defense lawyers provide AWOL representation. Contact a military defense firm at any time and anywhere to handle your return to the military in a way that reduces the consequences as much as possible.
You can have a confidential consultation to discuss your options following an AWOL or UA.
The military may take AWOL seriously
Depending on the situation, the military can take your going AWOL very seriously:
- They need to know if you stole military property.
- You may be injured or deceased somewhere.
- The military needs to have something to tell your family members and the occasional Congressperson or Congressional staffer.
- You are not the kind of person the military wants missing because you may be in a position or task with a Top Secret or higher security clearance.
- You may be in possession of a military ID that gives you access to various military installations until it is deactivated.
Perhaps, you need to be reminded that you signed a contract and took an oath. Going AWOL is a mistake that dishonors your contract. If you get caught or turn in yourself, you may be sent to military prison to serve the remainder of your contract.