U.S. Army Throws Cold Water On Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS Awareness At Fort Hood’s III Corps

The U.S. Army’s III Corps, stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas, recently put out this statement on their official Facebook page regarding the Ice Bucket Challenge:

“Ice bucket challenge not allowed per Army and DoD policy.

“Participating in this event is subject to concerns about implied endorsement. The Department of Defense Office of General Counsel has issued an order that current service members and Department of Defense employees cannot have ice dumped on them on camera while in uniform — including civilian uniforms.

“This action is governed by Army Regulation 360-1.”

For those of you who may not be aware, the Ice Bucket Challenge is an event designed to raise awareness of ALS — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease after the famous New York Yankee’s first baseman who died of the condition. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that causes the muscles to atrophy, often very quickly. It causes muscle spasms, difficulty breathing, and difficulty swallowing. Stephen Hawking, who according to another Inquisitr report is the smartest man alive yet still makes less money than the bearded men of Duck Dynasty, suffers from ALS.

The basic idea behind the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is this: Those who accept the challenge allow someone else to pour a bucket of ice water over their head while someone else films their reaction and posts the video to social media. Those who can are also encouraged to donate money to ALS-related causes. Every day people and celebrities alike have been challenged to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Those who do allow the ice water to be dumped over their heads and publicly nominate/challenge others to do the same.

Most of us have probably seen plenty of posts on our Facebook and other social media pages of people accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge. Many members of the military have already taken the Ice Bucket Challenge and have posted the videos to Facebook and other social media pages, often calling out other members of the military. This writer has personally seen several ALS Ice Bucket Challenges posted by members of the military on Facebook. Videos will not be embedded in this article out of concern for possible repercussions against said members of the U.S. military.

Not any more, say the officials of III Corps at Ft. Hood (this writer’s former unit and duty station, no less). The powers that be in the U.S. Army’s say that raising awareness for ALS by participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge violates Army Regulation 360-1.

The regulation the Ft. Hood officials are citing as a reason to forbid soldiers from participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge deals with Army public relations and behavior which could be seen as supporting partisan causes. Army Regulation 360-1, which also has equivalents that govern members of other branches of the military, can be read in its entirety here.

Apparently, the rub is that participating in the ALS awareness Ice Bucket Challenge implies an endorsement, something which individual soldiers are not allowed to do while in uniform. Those who have served in the military in recent years have increasingly seen the military clamp down on their involvement in any public activities that could possibly imply that the military takes a stand on anything. In one sense, that’s understandable because the military needs to be above political partisanship. But, really? How can the U.S. Army possibly think that raising awareness for a disease — not a political cause, but a medical condition — is a bad idea?

It’s not terribly strange — though it is a little silly — that the U.S. Army would not allow its members to participate while in military uniform. What’s bizarre about this is that the III Corps went so far as to say soldiers in civilian uniform cannot participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for ALS. What that means is that soldiers who are off duty and wearing civilian clothes are not allowed to participate.

One can only hope that this oddball move by the III Corps serves to further raise awareness for ALS by making the rest of us shake our heads at the idea that the U.S. Army would object to its soldiers participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

[Update] Ft. Hood’s III Corps later clarified its original statement with the following explanation, showing that soldiers may participate as long as they aren’t wearing any clothing that indicates any involvement with the military or in any way suggests U.S. Army endorsement.

“Here is the direct guidance for the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ The Office of General Counsel (OGC) Standards of Conduct Office has ruled that Army employees, including Soldiers, may not take the ALS awareness “Ice Bucket Challenge” in uniform – including military uniforms and other civilian uniforms clearly showing an Army relationship – i.e. Department of Army civilian police uniform, and post it on the internet. ” To clarify – Soldiers and Army Civilian Personnel may participate and post their videos to social media, but must not imply Army endorsement for the activity or any of the charities involved. Each of us is free to participate in an unofficial capacity.”

[Image via Bing]