‘I knew someone was going to come at me’: WI National Guard whistleblower fights medical discharge

The man who brought attention to sexual misconduct at the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison said he is being discharged for doing so.

Last year, Master Sgt. Jay Ellis brought forward allegations of a toxic, hostile and oppressive environment at the 115th Fighter Wing that he said led to female colleagues being sexually harassed and assaulted.

“It had to be done,” Ellis said of coming forward. “Someone had to say something. And I just couldn’t live with myself if I left and didn’t try to make things better for the people that were coming up behind me.”

The 25-year guardsman said bringing his concerns to supervisors didn’t seem to go anywhere, so he detailed multiple accounts in a letter to Sen. Tammy Baldwin, which kicked off a federal investigation into the 115th Fighter Wing.

Months later, he said he learned the medical examination board was looking at his file.

MSgt. Jay Ellis is 25yrs deep w/the WI Nat’l Guard, following a “sense of duty” to serve. Last year, he felt that sense of duty again, coming forward about sexual misconduct against his colleagues. Now, he’s being medically discharged. #News3Now pic.twitter.com/l1GOZPJlv4

— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) November 20, 2019

He said the board was looking for a reason to get him discharged, based on the issues they brought up in his medical history, like his allergy to tree nuts.

“I’ve had an allergy to tree nuts since I was a teenager,” Ellis said. “The Air Force let me in knowing full well I had an allergy to tree nuts.”

Despite him and his doctor disputing what he calls exaggerated claims or flat-out lies, he said the board told him he would be medically discharged.

“It definitely rips your heart out when you give everything that you have to serving your country, and you give it to an organization like that, and they just seem to be able to cast you aside without thinking twice about it,” he said.

Ellis is appealing the discharge, and Baldwin has written multiple letters to head military officials, saying she was extremely troubled to hear about his discharge. She also is calling for an investigation into the decision.

A spokesman for the Wisconsin National Guard said the Guard cannot comment on ongoing personnel and medical matters, but said the evaluation boards are independent of the organization.

“(Medical evaluation boards) are specifically set up in a way so the chain of command does not influence the outcome,” wrote Capt. Joe Trovato, a spokesman for the Wisconsin National Guard, in an email to News 3 Now. “Their purpose is to evaluate medical fitness for duty.”

Ellis said he hopes at the end of this, he can just return to work, and he said despite all of this, he doesn’t regret coming forward.

“I knew this was going to be part of the fight at some point,” Ellis said. “Knowing the culture, the way it is in the military in general, and at the Wing, I knew someone was going to come at me for coming forward.”

Ellis will sit before a formal Medical Examination Board on Dec. 3 to appeal the decision to discharge.

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