Lance Corporal Catherine Arnett is facing a whole new set of charges after the previous charges against her were rescinded in September of 2022. Arnett is a Marine stationed at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan who faced court-martial on charges linked to her refusal of a COVID-19 vaccine according to Stars and Stripes. According to Pretrial Restriction Orders Arnett was given today, she’s now facing potential violations of Articles 86 (unauthorized absence), 90 (willfully disobeying a Superior Commissioned Officer), 91 (insubordinate conduct toward a Non-Commissioned Officer), 92 (failure to obey an order or regulation), and 105 (forgery).
The charges stem from actions taken in April of 2022. Arnett was serving as the “Defense Travel System Reviewing Official and CitiBank Agency Program Coordinator” at Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152. She was notified in April that she would be discharged from the Marine Corps, therefore her leadership wanted her to focus on clearing the unit while putting less emphasis on her daily duties. Arnett deferred the clearing process since she was never ordered to do so either verbally or in writing and requested MAST with her Commanding Officer (CO) instead.
On April 22, her access to DTS was revoked. When she inquired from her shop’s leadership as to why her permissions were revoked, she was told they couldn’t tell her why. Arnett claims that since she was not given a reason as to why her access to the system was taken, she updated the original DD577 (the required form to gain access to DTS) that already had her commander’s signature on it with a new digital signature and date for herself and resubmitted the form on April 29. She continued to perform her duties as if nothing happened for several months.
Now she’s being charged with forgery under Article 105. According to Arnett, her leadership claims she forged the Squadron Commander’s signature even though she used the same form without altering his signature which was already on there. She was never given an order not to perform her duties, and her leadership knew full well that she was still working within the full scope of her daily duties.
In fact, her Commanding Officer sent an email to the shop’s distro requesting assistance with travel in May. When Arnett replied to his request, he wrote back directly to her on May 23 with all of the information she needed to process the request.
This was a month after her access to DTS had been removed, yet it would have required his authority to have done so (though she wasn’t told by her shop’s leadership who or why her access was revoked).
Then in August, Maj. Rob Martins, a spokesman for the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, told the Stars and Stripes Arnett “has been and will continue performing her daily duties and tasks” while her case is pending. Not only did her immediate chain of command know that she was working in her official capacity as a DTS Reviewing Official, but 1st Marine Aircraft Wing knew as well.
One of the things Arnett requested from her Commanding Officer at MAST was to not “get me” as it pertained to having petty charges thrown at her. She was well aware that her refusal to take the COVID vaccine, refusal to be discharged over it and the subsequent media fallout from everything that occurred, had ruffled a lot of feathers. Arnett was officially protected from reprisal in September when interim guidance from the Marine Corps was signed on September 14 which stated the “Marine Corps will not enforce any order to accept COVID-19 vaccination, administratively separate, or retaliate against Marines in the class for asserting statutory rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).” Arnett fell into this class. The Marine Corps withdrew the charges against her at this time.
She believes the Marine Corps is now looking for other ways to discharge her due to her very vocal, and public, stance. While she anticipated this may happen, she specifically asked her CO not to “get [her].” However, it appears her leadership is going to do just that.