Questions arose this week about politics and the military when an Iowa soldier was set to appear at a democratic political event in uniform. The soldier pulled out of the event after learning he could be violating the law. Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kuehn of the Iowa National Guard. He says military personnel, whether officers or enlisted, cannot attend a political activity while wearing their official uniform or while wearing an insignia that identifies them with the Iowa National Guard. He says it’s part of a federal defense regulation. Kuehn says there’s not a written definition of what constitutes a political event.He says it’s not defined in the sense of a list. He says in general if it’s a partisan event, Republican, Democrat or Green Party or whoever, that’s on behalf of a candidate — that’s a political event. Kuehn says the regulation doesn’t keep soldiers from taking part in the election process.He says it doesn’t keep soldiers form attending political events, but he says they need to be there off duty and out of uniform. And he says if they’re there out of uniform, they can’t be representing the military.Kuehn says soldiers who violate the rule can be punished.He says it’s enforced by the military code of justice. But, he says the penalty will likely not be harsh the first time.He says usually on the first offense you’d probably get “a good talking to”. Kuehn says most military personnel are good about checking on their potential involvement and he says it hasn’t been an issue very often.
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