COLORADO — The Guard Recruitment Assistance Program (G-RAP) operated from 2005 until 2012, when it was suspended due to widespread fraud. And those who participated – even though they may not have been responsible or had no part in the fraud – were caught in the net.
“If I lose my career and everything I’ve worked hard for, I’m worth more dead than alive.”
Staff Sgt. Ryan Zulkoski was an Army National Guardsman who joined G-RAP because he said he liked drafting people into the guard. G-RAP also offered a $2,000 bonus for each recruit who completed basic training.
“I really believed in the National Guard and its mission. And with G-RAP, it’s like – okay, I have a lot more incentive to go out there and make that happen,” Zulkoski said.
Several years later, he said he heard from someone he had recruited that the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) was asking about him for its investigation into recruiters abusing the G-RAP system.
“He’s like, ‘Hey, just a warning, CID was asking me about how I knew you and stuff. And I was like, ‘Okay, yeah, who cares…I don’t care.'”
At the time, Zulkoski said he wasn’t worried. Then he started reading about the horror stories of the CID investigations.
“They made all their investigations public. They were kicking down people’s doors,” he said.
And then the call finally came. This then began a long three-year investigative process.
“That was probably the darkest, darkest time of my life. I was taking a supplement [life] insurance policies,” Zulkoski said.
He said that even if he was innocent, it would be on his file that he was arrested for fraud and identity theft, which could cost him his job.
“I timed it so I could take my own life and still have my family taken care of.”
Nothing has come of the investigation and while he said he was able to keep his job as a nurse with the charges on his file, the fight is not over yet, adding that those involved in the G -RAP can always be sued by the CID since there are no limitation periods.
“There is a wartime clause that says if we are in an active declared war scenario, they can investigate crimes associated with the military beyond what would be a normal statute of limitations,” the official said. Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Thompson, a former G-RAP program participant.
He considers himself lucky that his case was thrown out federally due to circumstantial evidence and he already had a job that didn’t take what the CID said seriously. But, he said he knows a lot of people with different stories.
“If you know you didn’t do anything wrong and you’re one hundred percent confident, it’ll eventually be fine, but it’ll be uncomfortable at first,” Thompson said.
One of the ways former program participants said they found help and comfort was through this Facebook page.