National Guard captain’s career in limbo

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri National Guard Capt. Charity Summers’ career is in limbo, and she’s not sure why.

Summers, 34, of Columbia, was serving in Afghanistan in 2007 when her former partner allegedly forged her signature to obtain a $3,000 grant from a state emergency relief fund for military members. Summers’ testimony in November helped a Cole County grand jury indict Chief Warrant Officer Melissa Ireland on forgery charges.

But the St. Louis Post-Dispatchreported Monday that Summers remains under investigation by the National Guard, even though she hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing. She was blocked from taking a company command at Fort Leonard Wood and was reassigned to a staff job in Jefferson City. Meanwhile, the Guard has refused to release her from her full-time duties to accept a civilian job.

A Missouri National Guard spokeswoman said she could not discuss personnel matters.

Summers learned in September 2010 that she was under investigation. Until then, she was considered a rising star in the National Guard, according to her former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Michael Fayette.

Summers had served as a combat medic in Bosnia and served with the military police as a convoy commander in Afghanistan. Back in Missouri, she was given the high-profile task of putting together an organization-wide improvement program at Guard headquarters in Jefferson City.

“Career-wise everything was going well for me at that point,” Summers said.

Summers eventually received a memo alleging that she had fraudulently obtained $3,000 from the Military Family Relief Fund, the same case in which Ireland, a 21-year National Guard veteran, was allegedly involved.

Summers met with the investigating officer, Lt. Col. Amy Anderson, in December 2010 and denied applying for or signing the grant check. She said she felt scared by the allegations and betrayed by Ireland.

In May 2011, she faced questioning by the Cole County sheriff’s and prosecutor’s offices. She asked for legal counsel and the interview ended.

Her attorney, Daniel Dodson, said authorities told him they had searched Summers’ computer for any email records of conversations between Ireland and Summers concerning the grant but found nothing. Eventually, Dodson said the authorities told him they no longer considered Summers a suspect and had notified the military of their findings.

But Summers said she remains under military investigation. She’s not sure why since the civilian investigation apparently cleared her.

Cole County Prosecutor Mark A. Richardson said he could not discuss a pending case, but he noted Ireland’s indictment states she had written and authenticated a check to Summers without Summers’ permission.

Ireland could face up to seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted. Her lawyer declined comment.

Summers said she dismissed Dobson after her supervisor told her that the hiring of an attorney was part of the reason she remained under military investigation.

“They said it looks suspicious because you lawyered up and it dragged out the process,” she said.

Summers notified the Guard three days after Ireland’s indictment that she wanted to accept a civilian job in Arizona. But the chief of staff refused the request, saying she could not be released while still under military investigation.

“I have literally sacrificed every aspect of my life for this organization because I love it so much,” Summers said. “I have sacrificed my relationships with my family and friends because the military did come first. I always went above and beyond, and now all of that has been taken from me.”

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