Sixteen DEA agents who are either current or former reservists have filed a complaint with a federal watchdog group over allegations that they were discriminated against due to their service, one agent saying that he was told to quit “playing soldier,” Fox News reports.

If these allegations turn out to be true it would be in direct violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. This act is intended to ensure members of the uniformed services, “are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service.”

In one instance, a reservist was ridiculed by a superior upon returning from Iraq with a Purple Heart. “He basically said, ‘Well, you know, if you had gotten out of the reserves this wouldn’t have happened. You pretty much deserve everything you get,’” said special agent and Marine Captain Mark Coast to Fox.

Coast served three tours in Iraq and was called a “poisonous pansy” by his DEA boss. He alleges that DEA managers would assign him to tasks that they knew would be difficult for him due to his war injuries.

Special Agent John Ciccarelli, an Army Ranger, was told in 2005 that “playing soldier” would hurt his career with the DEA and was asked by his boss about his “vacation in Iraq”.

One Navy reservist was told, “you might be a Commander in the Navy but you are not shit here.”

According to Coast, it is due to added workload when reservists get called up to duty, “it’s financial, you don’t get a bonus, the stats go down your bonuses goes down.”

It isn’t solely workplace harassment that current and former reservists would face, their service was used against them when it came to promotions. Cicacarelli was told after being rejected for promotion that the DEA was his “real job.”

Another DEA agent and retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel was given “freeway therapy” due to his annual reservist training leave. Agent Andrew Pappas, now based in Honduras, was transferred on his return from training to a regional office 90 minutes further from his California home.

Supervisory Special Agent Darek Kitlinski, a lieutenant commander in the Coast Guard Reserves, claims that the DEA discrimination followed him outside of work. He says he found a Blackberry phone belonging to the DEA under the hood of his SUV last September. This occurred following testimony him and his wife gave about alleged DEA efforts to block an internal transfer so he can live with his wife, all due to his reservist duties.

He believes the phone was put there either to eavesdrop or track his movements.

His lawyer Kevin Brynes, currently has the phone for safekeeping after the DEA requested its return. He does not know of any warrant that would have allowed the DEA to place the phone there.

Fox reached out to the DEA office in Washington and they declined to comment.

The complaint was filed with the the Merit Systems Protection Board, which is, “an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the executive branch that serves as the guardian of Federal merit systems.”


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