The military already has rules and regulations about membership in certain hate groups. The tragic events at Charlottesville are likely to garner more attention to the issue of military personnel and hate groups.
From Task & Purpose.
James Alex Fields Jr., the 20-year-old Army basic training wash-out accused of running down counter-protesters demonstrating against hate groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, may not have been the only U.S. military veteran marching under the banner of white nationalism this weekend, Splinter reports.
Dillon Ulysses Hopper, the self-described “CEO” of the Vanguard America a militant neo-Nazi hate group whose members appeared alongside Fields in a widely-circulated photograph taken at the rally, reportedly joined the Marine Corps in 2005. A veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hopper’s military records show the 29-year-old New Mexico native (whose birth name is Dillon Irizarry) served as an enlisted Marine, an information security technician (MOS 0681).
What makes Hopper’s background even more troubling is his service at home. A Vanguard America representative told Splinter that Hopper has identified as a white supremacist since 2012, the same year he started a three-and-a-half-year stint as a Marine recruiter in Ohio, where he was assigned to recruit students at least one high school. A photo from that era shows a clean-shaven, bespectacled Hopper standing in front of a Marine Corps recruiting poster.
Hopper managed to rise to the rank of staff sergeant and remained on active duty until January 2017, according to his military records. He claimed in an interview with Splinter that he became the leader of Vanguard America one year ago. Marine Corps policy prohibits members from participating in organizations “that espouse supremacist causes,” and violators face possible separation or non-judicial punishment. Evidently that wasn’t enough to deter Hopper.
Hopper’s ascension to the head of Vanguard America may be evidence of a growing and troubling trend within the U.S armed forces. A 2008 FBI report found that “white supremacist leaders are making a concerted effort to recruit active-duty soldiers and recent combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” According to Splinter, Hopper deployed twice overseas, serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008 and in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010. It is unclear if he ever saw combat in his role as an Information Security Technician.