- Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Katherine Spessa
- The US military’s former top enlisted official had a pattern of using his soldiers “to perform services for his personal convenience,” according to a report by the US Army’s inspector general, which said these staffers “felt obliged” to help him with these personal favors.
- Documents obtained by the military-news website Task & Purpose revealed details of the ethics violations of former Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, who retired in December.
- The investigation said the 37-year military veteran instructed staffers to purchase goods for him at CVS.
- He was also accused of endorsing fitness products on his social-media accounts, including in an exercise video posted on his official Facebook page in which he appeared to endorse the training-equipment company TRX.
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The US military’s former top enlisted official had a pattern of using his soldiers “to perform services for his personal convenience,” according to a previous report by the US Army’s inspector general. Documents recently obtained by the military news website Task & Purpose said Sgt. Maj. John Troxell violated ethics rules through these favors and an apparent endorsement of fitness equipment on his official Facebook account.
“These unofficial duties included the subordinates going to CVS for him, driving after hours during [temporary duty] to unofficial events, dining with them, and provided unnecessary support to him and his wife,” the documents said, according to Task & Purpose.
According to the investigation, the 37-year military veteran instructed staffers to purchase goods for him at CVS.
“No, dude, you are not an indentured servant,” Troxell said in response a staffer who attempted to give him $10 back in change, according to the investigation.
While Troxell did not “encourage” his staff to perform unofficial duties, the inspector general’s report said they “felt obliged to provide him unofficial support.”
“They recognized they were working for the highest ranking NCO in the DOD, they respected him, and they wanted to do their best to help CSM Troxell succeed,” the investigation said, Task & Purpose reported.
Troxell, who was the senior enlisted adviser to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford at the time, was temporarily suspended last year amid the investigation into the allegations of misconduct.
The allegations also included reports that he endorsed fitness products on his social-media accounts. In a video posted on his official military Facebook page, Troxell appeared to endorse the training-equipment company TRX by wearing a shirt and shorts with a TRX logo while exercising on its equipment. Troxell said he was wearing the company-branded clothing because he did not have other clean clothes at the time.
While Troxell did not mention the company’s name explicitly in the videos, investigators still said “the unmistakable presence of TRX material in the video, the apparel worn by … Troxell, the signage, and the equipment used present an unmistakable focus on the TRX brand” and had “implied an endorsement.”
Troxell was allowed back on duty in March after the military found he “received no personal or monetary gain from these endorsements.”
“But I will tell you, what I’ve learned is, you know, self-reflection is important, especially as a senior enlisted leader,” Troxell said at his retirement ceremony in December, according to the Military Times.
“Be cognizant of your environment at all times,” he added. “When you serve as the senior enlisted adviser to the [chairman] and your job is to gain the pulse of the force … that suggests that you’re out with the troops. You can get so focused on the operational environment and providing that pulse that you forget about being back here at the Pentagon and what your role is back here.”
Other Pentagon officials were accused of using their staffers to perform personal errands. In July, the Defense Department’s inspector general said Dana White, a former Pentagon spokeswoman, had instructed her subordinates to acquire food, schedule her personal trips, and pick up her dry cleaning. White abruptly resigned in January 2019.
According to the inspector general’s report, White’s attorney denied the findings and said the allegations had “no basis in fact or law.”