A U.S. Marine singing the national anthem in full uniform in advance of a rally for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has drawn heated criticism for breaking regulations.
Cpl. Jason Perkins, a member of Marine Forces Reserve, sang the anthem before Trump’s speech in Birmingham. At the event, Trump said he was still considering an independent run, despite having signed a statement pledging not to do so.
The video of the event, which was posted on Facebook, received huge support, but some have questioned Perkins’ participation in a political event while in uniform. Department of Defense regulations state that although personnel are encouraged to participate in civic activities, doing so in full uniform is more than frowned upon because it gives the impression of Marine Corps endorsement.
A spokeswoman from the Marine Corps confirmed that Perkins ran afoul of the regulations.
“The Department of Defense has a longstanding policy of encouraging military personnel to carry out the obligations of citizenship,” Lt. Col Tanya Murnock, assistant chief of staff for public affairs at the Marine Forces Reserve, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “However, DoD personnel acting in their official capacity may not engage in activities that associate the DoD with any partisan political campaign, election, candidate, issue or cause.”
“Specifically, DoD personnel shall not wear the uniform during any political event. Per DoD Directive 1344.10, Marines may attend political events as a spectator when not in uniform, but may not wear the uniform during any political event.”
This isn’t the first time Perkins has sang the national anthem in a political context. In January 2014, Perkins sang for the 76th annual Greer Chamber of Commerce meeting in South Carolina, which featured Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham.
Perkins did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Back in 2012, the Army reprimanded a soldier who endorsed GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul while on TV in full military uniform. Jesse D. Thorsen, the soldier, managed to escape without a dismissal. The Army said that Thorsen “stands alone in his opinions reading his political affiliation and beliefs.”
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