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Meet Col. Michael Madrid

Colonel Michael Madrid is a decorated Air Force veteran, a former Naval aviator, and a flight surgeon who has served in the military for 26 years with a stellar record. (Read Madrid’s military bio and fitness reports)

“As a flight surgeon, it’s my job to make sure that the Air Force’s ‘Human Weapon System’ is in top condition,” Col. Madrid says. “It’s a privilege to wear the uniform and serve my country in the United States Armed Forces.”

Kindness toward a struggling Airman

In August 2012, Col. Madrid was transferred to Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. Soon after, a young Airman arrived on base and struggled with his medical career. Col. Madrid worked to support and mentor the young man.

In 2013, the Airman was charged with multiple criminal offenses, including illegally bringing a loaded weapon onto the Air Force base, prescribing narcotics illegally, and performing duties while under the influence of narcotics. He was soon court-martialed and found guilty of the charges.

Despite mentoring the young Airman, Col. Madrid supported the court-martial because the Airman committed such serious crimes. During his court-martial, the Airman, who is gay, filed a complaint alleging that Madrid had made derogatory comments about homosexuality.

Col. Madrid, who has never hidden his traditional Christian beliefs about marriage as the union of one man and one woman, denied the accusations, but submitted to a thorough Air Force investigation.

Based on records, interviews, and fact-finding, the Air Force found the allegations “unsubstantiated” and closed the investigation in 2014. The commanding officer who oversaw the investigation said in an official letter, “I consider this matter closed.”

“The Airman not only violated the law, but his responsibility as a flight surgeon,” Madrid says. “He placed patients and aircrews at risk of adverse outcomes. With his court martial looming, I believe there was an attempt to impugn my character and discredit my testimony. However, I was never called as a witness and the Airman was found guilty.”

The investigation is reopened

After the Airman’s discharge from the Air Force, Col. Madrid continued in his exemplary military service, including receiving the prestigious Meritorious Service Medal—for the fourth time—for his “singularly distinctive accomplishments.”

In August 2014, Col. Madrid moved to a new unit, becoming the Chief of Medical Standards at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He was promoted from the rank of Lt. Colonel to Colonel on June 1, 2016.

A few weeks after Col. Madrid was promoted, Madrid’s commander at his new base, Major General John E. McCoy, questioned the results of the investigation.

Maj. Gen. McCoy acknowledged that the investigation found that the accusations made against Col. Madrid were “unsubstantiated.” However, based solely on his reading of the old records, without conducting any new interviews or obtaining any new evidence, Maj. Gen. McCoy announced that he believed Col. Madrid lied to the investigator and was therefore guilty of the Airman’s accusations.

As a result, Maj. Gen. McCoy issued a Letter of Admonishment to Madrid, staining his permanent record. The letter virtually guarantees that Madrid, who has an otherwise stellar record and who is only one promotion away from the rank of Brigadier General, will never be promoted. It could also potentially cause Col. Madrid to be demoted, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of dollars in active and retired pay.

Legal action in defense of Col. Madrid

After receiving the Letter of Admonishment, Col. Madrid sought legal help from an active duty Air Force JAG. The JAG reached out to First Liberty Institute, informing them that the Air Force denied due process to Col. Madrid. The JAG said he was being reassigned, so he would not be able to continue representing Col Madrid, but that he was very concerned about what was happening to Col. Madrid and that he wanted to be sure he received the best legal representation possible.

First Liberty Institute agreed to represent Col. Madrid and on March 29, they sent a demand letter to the United States Air Force, arguing that Col. Madrid has been denied due process and demanding that the Letter of Admonishment be rescinded. If not, they say they are prepared to take further legal action.

“Colonel Madrid submitted to an extensive military investigation and the Air Force cleared him,” Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, says. “Major General McCoy has no right to ignore the rule of law and arbitrarily decide, more than two years later and without any new evidence, that he can punish Col. Madrid.”

Berry says that although Maj. Gen. McCoy never provided reasons for his actions, they are consistent with a growing trend of extreme political correctness and hostility toward traditional religion in the military.

“At First Liberty Institute, we’ve seen multiple cases in which military officials have refused to tolerate service members’ traditional religious beliefs. That shouldn’t happen to anyone,” Berry says. “Colonel Madrid doesn’t hide the fact that he is a devout Christian. We are concerned that Major General McCoy judged and punished Madrid – a decorated Air Force officer – because he became aware of Col. Madrid’s traditional religious views. If so, that not only harms the military, but it is illegal.”

“I feel like the full power of the Air Force is coming down on me because of my faith,” Col. Madrid says. “Now, after more than a quarter century of service to this nation, I feel like I constantly have to look over my shoulder. It’s incredibly intimidating.”

“Religious intolerance and discrimination against anyone in the military is inexcusable,” Berry says. “We ask the Air Force to take immediate action to hold Major General McCoy accountable and to provide justice and due process for Colonel Madrid.”

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release: March 29, 2017

Contact: Kassie Dulin, kdulin@firstliberty.org
Cell: 214-542-4334, Direct: 972-941-4575 

Col. Madrid – Photo courtesy of First Liberty Institute

AIR FORCE COLONEL PUNISHED FOR HIS RELIGIOUS BELIEFS FIGHTS BACK

Colonel Michael Madrid’s law firm demands that the Air Force rescind Col. Madrid’s punishment and attempt to destroy his career


 San Antonio, Texas – Today, First Liberty Institute, a national religious freedom law firm, sent a demand letter to the United States Air Force on behalf of its client, Colonel Michael Madrid, USAF.

First Liberty attorneys say the Air Force discriminated against Col. Madrid because of his religious beliefs about marriage and sexuality. They are asking the Air Force to rescind Madrid’s punishment or face further legal action.

“Colonel Madrid is the latest victim of the extreme political correctness that is destroying our military,” Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, says. “The military should never discriminate against a service member because of his religious beliefs.”

Col. Michael Madrid is a decorated Air Force veteran, a former Naval aviator, and a flight surgeon who has served in the military for 26 years. As a Christian, he holds the traditional belief that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman.

In 2014, an openly gay Airman was court-martialed and found guilty of serious misconduct. During the court-martial process, the Airman, who worked with Col. Madrid, accused Col. Madrid of having made derogatory comments about homosexuality.

Col. Madrid denied making such comments and submitted to a thorough Air Force investigation, where he explained that he holds traditional Christian beliefs about marriage. The Air Force found the allegations unsubstantiated, cleared Madrid of the charges, and closed the investigation. (Read more about the court-martial and investigation)

However, more than two years later, Col. Madrid was placed under a new commander, Major General John E. McCoy. Soon after, without any new evidence or new investigation, Maj. Gen. McCoy arbitrarily decided that Madrid had lied during the investigation and was guilty of the Airman’s accusation of making derogatory comments about homosexuality.

As a result, Maj. Gen. McCoy placed a Letter of Admonishment in Madrid’s permanent record. The letter virtually guarantees that Madrid, who has an otherwise stellar record and who is only one promotion away from the rank of Brigadier General, will never be promoted.

Today, First Liberty sent a demand letter to the United States Air Force, saying that Col. Madrid has been denied due process and demanding that the Letter of Admonishment be rescinded. If not, they say they are prepared to take further legal action.

“Colonel Madrid submitted to an extensive military investigation and the Air Force cleared him,” Berry says. “Major General McCoy has no right to ignore the rule of law and arbitrarily decide, more than two years later and without any new evidence, that he can punish Col. Madrid.”

First Liberty attorneys say that although Maj. Gen. McCoy never provided reasons for his actions, they are consistent with a growing trend of extreme political correctness and hostility toward traditional religion in the military.

“At First Liberty Institute, we’ve seen multiple cases in which military officials have refused to tolerate service members’ traditional religious beliefs,” Berry says. “Colonel Madrid doesn’t hide the fact that he is a devout Christian. We are concerned that Major General McCoy judged and punished Madrid – a decorated Air Force officer – because he became aware of Colonel Madrid’s traditional religious views. If so, that not only harms the military, but it is illegal.”

“I feel like the full power of the Air Force is coming down on me because of my faith,” Col. Madrid says. “Now, after more than a quarter century of service to this nation, I feel like I constantly have to look over my shoulder. It’s incredibly intimidating.”

“Religious intolerance and discrimination against anyone in the military is inexcusable,” Berry says. “We ask the Air Force to take immediate action to hold Major General McCoy accountable and to provide justice and due process for Colonel Madrid.”

Read more about Madrid’s case at MadridCaseFacts.com

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Kassie Dulin, Chief Communications Office for First Liberty Institute. Email: kdulin@firstliberty.org, Direct: 972-941-4575, Cell: 214-542-4334.


Media Stories

First Liberty: Air Force Colonel Punished for his Religious Beliefs About Sexuality