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Panel: Lovelorn NASA astronaut should go

By Ed O'Keefe

The NASA astronaut who drove from Houston to Orlando to confront her rival in a love triangle should be separated from the Navy with a less-than-honorable discharge, a Navy panel recommended on Thursday.

Several news reports say a Navy board of inquiry also recommended a demotion for Lisa Nowak, from captain to commander.

Nowak flew a Space Shuttle mission in 2006 and had a romantic relationship with shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein. She pleaded guilty last November to felony burglary and misdemeanor battery after confronting her rival for Oefelein's heart in Feb. 2007. Nowak lost her assignment to NASA as a naval officer shortly after her arrest.

Her story caught wide attention amid reports she wore a diaper during the trip to avoid making bathroom stops. She later denied those reports.

The panel, which met Thursday at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, will make its formal recommendation to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who has the final say on the matter.

Nowak would lose all military pensions and benefits if she is dishonorably discharged.

Oefelein retired from the Navy in 2008 and announced his engagement to the other woman, Colleen Shipman, in 2009. At last report, the couple was operating a freelance writing and photography business in Alaska, according to NBC.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | August 20, 2010; 11:37 AM ET
Categories:  Military, Workplace Issues  
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Ok something is drastically wrong with this board if all they recommended is less than honorable (which will be classified as other than honorable)which is what your basic people get that get out early for any disciplinary problems. This should have been a bad conduct discharge recommendation or a dishonorable discharge. She was intending on commiting murder!

Posted by: disturbedintx | August 20, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Correct. Very very wrong. If she were enlisted she'd be in Leavenworth, then given a dishonorable discharge. What crap. Signed: Retired Army CID agent.

Posted by: 1819 | August 21, 2010 6:26 AM | Report abuse

Few clarifications: Discharge rules for commissioned officers are different from those of enlisted personnel. Commissioned officers cannot be given a "dishonorable discharge" - they are given a "dismissal". Commissioned officers also cannot get a "bad conduct" discharge - they are given a discharge under "other than honorable conditions".

Since Nowak's status was determined by a Navy administrative board of inquiry, NOT a court-martial, she cannot be given a dismissal (equivalent of dishonorable discharge for enlisteds) by this board, or even by the Navy Secretary, without undergoing a formal general court martial. It seems highly unlikely that, once the Navy decided to pursue an administrative separation, this decision would be reversed by the Navy Secretary in favor of a general court-martial.

With regard to her VA benefits after discharge, the VA (not the Navy) makes an individual determination of benefit eligibility for those discharged under "other than honorable conditions". I suspect that as a convicted felon she will be ruled ineligible for VA benefits, although she would likely retain eligibility for VA health care (but not compensation) for any service-connected disabilities. However, if the VA determined that she was "insane" at the time of her "other than honorable" actions, her VA benefits would be restored.

Even if Nowak loses her VA benefits, she is still eligible for all of the benefits accorded to any retired commissioned officer who receives a military pension (which she will get): TRICARE eligibility, space-available care at military treatment facilities, access to commissary and PX, space-available travel, etc.

Posted by: allanrg | August 21, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

If Tom Foley the partial Retard gets into the Governor’s office in the State of Connecticut am I going to have to under go his elaborate approval network of weather or not he is going to allow me to sleep at night or use the bathroom for a bowel movement. I suffered for 4 years under the partial retard Tom Foley’s reign of terror while he was in the Bush administration with 4 years of electronic sleep deprivation and his Bi-Weekly bowel movement program. Also, are all of my girl friends going to kidnapped and raped by horses on his Foley Farm when he gets in ? Burke2 of and victim of Tom Foley electronic Sleep Deprivation Terrorism against unarmed civilians.

It has been purported through anonymous intelligence that this Tom Foley partial-retard has been involved in electronic sleep deprivation in the State of Connecticut. Question for the Washington Post: What rights do I have as a gifted Genius in the United States to protect myself from cowardly Psychopaths like Tom Foley who are so cowardly afraid of anyone superior than them that they use electronic sleep deprivation and electronic torture to try and prevent gifted geniuses from achievement in the United States? Gerard Joseph Burke II...aka…Burke2 of and electronic Sleep Deprivation victim of Tom Foley.

Posted by: GerardJBurke2 | August 21, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

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