Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan: “What Took so Long?”

Apr 29, 2016
Press Release
Decorated War Hero To Remain In Special Forces

Martland’s Actions Warranted “Appreciation, Not Punishment”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, commenting on the Army’s decision to reinstate a decorated war hero, said the soldier never should have been dismissed in the first place.

“What took so long?” Buchanan asked, after a review board concluded that two-time Bronze Star recipient Sgt. Charles Martland could remain in the military. Martland had been dismissed last year for standing up to a child rapist while serving in Afghanistan. 

“While the Pentagon’s refusal to correct this injustice quickly was troubling, I’m glad that he will be able to continue serving our country in uniform,” Buchanan said. “Sgt. Martland’s actions to stop an Afghan rapist from abusing children in 2011 warranted appreciation, not punishment. We need to make sure this never happens again.”

As reported in the New York Times, in September 2011 Martland and his captain confronted Abdul Rahman, an American-backed Afghan police commander, “for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.” The Times described a chilling Pentagon policy that told American soldiers to look the other way when Afghan allies sexually abused young boys, sometimes on military bases.

The Pentagon’s final decision arrives many months after Sgt. Martland was originally set to be discharged last November. However, after filing an appeal to remain in the military and continue serving his country, the U.S. Army delayed time and again, most recently granting itself a third extension, to May 1, 2016, to reach a final decision on his case. 

“The Pentagon finally took action and did the right thing,” Buchanan said. “Going forward, I hope the Department of Defense will learn from Martland’s case and avoid punishing those who stand up for American values at home and abroad.”

Buchanan led the push in Congress to reinstate the decorated war hero. In September 2015 he introduced a bipartisan resolution in the U.S. House (H.Res.451) calling for the immediate reinstatement of Martland. Buchanan’s legislation gained widespread support by more than 50 bipartisan members of Congress as well as several of the nation’s leading veterans service organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Concerned Veterans of America, and AMVETS.

Buchanan also previously wrote to the Army Secretary to reinstate Martland; to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to reverse the policy; and to the Chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to launch a full investigation into how this policy came to be and which individuals were responsible for its implementation.