James Branum the big-hearted leech

| August 16, 2010

We haven’t had an opportunity to discuss James Branum (background here and here) lately because I’d heard he’d been keeping his nose clean and actually helped soldiers instead of getting them tossed in jail for “The Cause” and story lines for Dahr Jamail. But someone sent me this link to his website “GI Rights lawyer” that I just couldn’t let pass.

This is the story of Robert Bulechek and his family. His wife has written a plea for donations because apparently Robert is doing time for being AWOL. Poor guy joined the Army to get ahead, but unfortunately, the Army didn’t pay him enough to take care of his wife, two kids and their invalid parents, so after basic and AIT, Robert went AWOL to get a better job. Then for some reason the Army swore out a warrant for his arrest and he was picked up last February. For some reason the Army doesn’t trust him and kept him confined to barracks, blah, blah, blah.

Now she wants you to send her money. But that’s not the worst part – Branum feels sorry for her to the point that he’ll blame the Army for punishing the law breaker and give her some bandwidth to beg for money, but that’s where his charity ends;

50% of the donations raised in this appeal will go to pay for Robert’s legal bills.

Translation; 50% of the money will go to buy Slurpees and Gut-busters. First of all, who thinks they can just walk away from the Army and get another job because E-1 pay sucks? Secondly, does knowing that 50% of the money Branum collects with his PayPal account is going in Hefty Boy’s gullet make you want to donate more or less? Seems to me that if Branum had any concern for this family, like he tries to tell us, all of the money would go to the family and he’d worry about his legal expenses later. But that’s just me.

Now, I’m told that IVAW, (Seth Manzell, actually) is spreading the word around that Robert Bulechek didn’t go AWOL because of his family, but because he turned against the war. they did the same thing for that other fat turd, Leo Church who did the same thing as Bulechek – they turned Church into an anti-war boob from an average run-of-the-mill AWOL boob.


But I looked him up on FaceBook and there is a lot of things that raise a few questions. Like if he was arrested in February, then why does he have photos of himself outside of confinement. Some of the photos are of him and Family in New Mexico dated March 2010?

Or his comment on FaceBook saying that he is on Staff Duty in June 16th 2010.

on staff duty. not much to do but sit here, lol

Also married to the same Tonya Bulechek that started the page for him. This whole things feels weird to me.


Found out more about the unit he was a part of from this photo. Also he is a 21 series according to AKO. Seems he is part of the 1st Sustainment Brigade that deployed this March. But get this, they deployed to Kuwait in order to help with the troop drawdown in Iraq. So when Seth says that this deployment is Illegal does that mean he really wants our troops to stay there? Or does it reinforce that the is not paying attention to what is happening in Iraq and just repeating slogans like he always does.

Category: Iraq Veterans Against the War, James Branum

Comments (48)

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  1. NHSparky says:

    Hmmmm…seems to be that when I was on recruiting duty, enlisting with three dependents (wife and two kids) required at least a financial statement and a waiver provided they could show he could support everyone on an E-1’s pay. And did this clown SERIOUSLY think he could support a wife, two kids, AND parents on less than $1500/month take home? Seriously?

  2. Alvin says:

    Thanks for the link to help out Branum. He’s solid.

    Donating shortly.

  3. Sporkmaster says:

    I guess it is true, a fool and his money are soon parted.

  4. Susan says:

    What a jackass. Could we possibly locate a dissatisfied customer to file a bar complaint?

  5. Scott says:

    You’d think if you had three kids and were in such dire financial straits for so long, you’d have the good sense to use some form of birth control. Sheesh.

    Funny how Manzel inserts the anti-war angle where it is conspicuously absent, if not flatly contradicted by the wife’s claim that Bulechek knew his actions were wrong and then offered to deploy anyway. But I suppose IVAW has never had scruples about making shit up to promote their agenda.

  6. PintoNag says:

    Hhhmmm. He went into the Army to make more money, then went AWOL to get a job making more money. If he was capable of getting a better paying job originally, why go in the Army in the first place?
    I don’t know about anyone else, but when I go into a job interview, I usually discuss pay BEFORE I accept the job. Most civilian employers tend to frown on only working a couple of weeks and then quiting, also!

  7. Fm2176 says:

    Funny thing is, if he’d have stuck it out he would be doing okay financially right now; being at least an E4 and possibly an E5. I read the entire sob story but find it hard to believe he didn’t take the pay into account prior to joining.

    I came in with two kids and a soon to be wife making half what my last civilian job paid me. I understood that but wanted something more than I had as a civilian. I decided to reenlist after Iraq and now, nine years later, make more than triple what I did as a civilian. I guess this guy didn’t realize that as little as we get paid, at least we get two guaranteed raises a year for the first four years (col and years of service) and that most Soldiers advance from E1 to E4 within two years. He put himself in this situation, if he were smart he would have made his parents dependents for health care reasons and taken the extra five hundred dollars or so a month during the deployment to help until he made some rank and seniority.

  8. CPT Me says:

    I think it is a violation of professionally responsibility for legal counsel to directly solicit funds for legal fees. Conflict of interest et al

  9. NHSparky says:

    CPT–you just said the two magic words right there–professional and responsible, and as we’ve seen, Branum is neither.

  10. It’s clear you people are so brainwashed by your time in the Military you don’t want to see that the Army just screws over Soldiers whenever it feels like! All you war mongers are dead-in-the-head fascists!

  11. Daniel says:


    It is not brainwashing. The Soldier did not do the right thing and should be punished accordingly.

    As a Battery and Company Commander I have had Soldiers in similar situations and they came to me and I hooked them up the ACS and other services that provide assistance if a Soldier is having financial troubles. They received an AER loan and were able to succeed and repay the loan when they could. Likewise, I have also had Soldiers request to have a part-time job after duty hours and allowed it through regulations as long as it doesn’t interfere with military duty.

    Instead of doing the right thing and attempting to go through proper channels that could provide him with a proper solution, this “Soldier” decided to run off and fail his contractual obligation and the entire unit by going AWOL. Therefore it is no surprise that he is being punished.

    His actions resulted in the situation HE now faces, HE not the Army made those choices and HE should face the punishment accordingly.

  12. NHSparky says:

    Casey, I sincerely hope that was sarcasm.

  13. hahaha It was guys and gals.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Casey, the soldier in question was stupid long before he was a soldier (some people just are, it happens) and Barnum is exploiting that (sorta like hunting with a .30-06 in a petting zoo, and about as sick). What’s really sad is no one sat the boy down and clearly got it through to him that he had no sense, taught him to seek guidance about major decisions and developed him until he could see some things might be f*cked-up for himself.

  15. NHSparky says:

    Damn, man–you make it sound like hunting in a petting zoo with a .30-06 is a BAD thing…

  16. Really? You mean to tell me civilian jobs pay more than the Army? You don’t say. There are a lot of things I wish I knew to check for before I joined but one thing I did was check the pay scale.

    Listen, deployments are rough. I get that. But there is a sizable pay bump when you go. If you do not have a moral obligation to the war, then go. Yes, there is the risk of serious injury and death, but you knew that when you signed up during a time of war. He would have been better off with leaving a getting the larger paycheck.

    Also, if you have disabled Parents, and the Wife also has disabled Parents, then why spit out three kids? I understand if you want kids. But if you are hard up on money then why have three of them?

    Branum’s math is also fuzzy. If all he needs is less than a thousand, but raises five grand, is he going to take $2,500?

    Seth Manzel is a joke. The Wife’s letter said nothing about being against the war. He’s a liar just like the rest of IVAW.

  17. Scott says:

    Tonya has a FB group. Well, a page anyway; so far the only fans are her and Branum, and donations have not been forthcoming.

    Branum must have edited her missive for her; the original is barely coherent, which might explain why she doesn’t work.

    Is there anyone less sympathetic than this guy? Had a job (a better paying one according to his wife) but thought he could make more in the army? What was the basis for that line of reasoning? Couldn’t find a computer and do five minutes of research to see how much he’d be bringing in to support a family of four? It’s not a state secret.

    And then when deployment comes near, he decides he can’t hack it? Probably something that he should have considered upon enlistment back in 2006. What with 2 wars going on and all, I can’t comprehend how anyone would see deployment as anything but an inevitability.

    He might be a swell dad, but he and his wife don’t seem to have the capacity for forethought, since she ostensibly encouraged his decision to join the army without an ounce of research as to what the commitment entails, his subsequent decision to go AWOL, and their decision to conceive a fourth kid even though they can’t afford the three they have.

    At least they can count on the anti-war folks to lionize them for their stupidity, and turn it into some kind of principled moral struggle. Thanks Seth!

  18. lovemylife0721 says:

    OMG! I think all of you need to find something better to do than make comments about other peoples life. I am not saying that what Bulechek did was right. But you do not know what another person has gone though unless you have walked in thier shoes. As far as James why do you put him down? Is something wrong with you that you have to make your comments about others? This is why the world is the way it is.

  19. Sporkmaster says:

    Because he has been the ruin of many Soldiers that would refer to him for Legal advise for the benefit of his “Cause”.

    If you worried about what we are saying perhaps you should judge what is being said about us.

  20. Scott says:

    “Is something wrong with you that you have to make your comments about others? ”

    Nope. Any more questions?

  21. lovemylife0721 says:

    So where do i need to go to look @ what is said about u all? But no matter what the case is. People, I mean not just you need to keep somethings to thier self.

  22. Sporkmaster says:

    Lets see there is Mike Prysner who claims that the real Heroes are the people that are planting IED and other bombs.

    Andre Shepherd who made this comment. “It is good that wounded U.S. soldiers receive excellent medical care in Germany,” says Shepherd, “but it should not be forgotten that civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan who are injured by U.S. troops receive no such help.”

    When I have directly helped these people affected by war.

    Victor Agosto For similar reasons and Andre claiming things that we did or did not do from the safety of the FOB. Also him impersonating several members here when he got called on it.

    But here is the thing went it becomes about what we did or did not do in the year or years in Iraq or Afghanistan we have every right to call people out like this because for most of them they have not been there, we have.

  23. lovemylife0721 says:

    WOW! Some people are crazy and i support all of our troops. Thank u all so much for everything u do and have to go though. Not everyone can handle doing what you men and women have to do.

  24. Sporkmaster says:

    As far as James Branum he has shown time and time again that he is not familiar with UCMJ law. A lack of knowledge that will cost a client big time.

    Just because a defense attorney is a Officer does not mean that they will not try to fight for their client, regardless that the other side is also Army. That is one thing that needs to be understood. I have seen a Jag Officer get a BCD(Bad Conduct) reduced to a GDC(General). Even tried to have a GOHC (General under Honorable Conditions). If your lawyer does not know the differences between these discharges that is not a good thing for you.

  25. lovemylife0721 says:

    That is crazy

  26. nhsparky says:

    And keep in mind that a lot of the posters here DO “walk the walk”. While I’m Navy, I’ve done my share of deployments (five of them to be exact) and saw the same whiny, bitchy, “But I don’t WANNA go!” mentality then as now.

    Better to flush the turd than to deal with it someplace where his attitude will get people hurt or worse.

  27. lovemylife0721 says:

    yeh i understand what you are saying. But i do not know why you all are being like that to Bulechek and his family. The others you are putting down you know them. But why Bulechek?

  28. Sporkmaster says:

    Because everyone in Basic and AIT is repeatedly told that no mater what your issues are that going AWOL is going to make them worse every time. He should have known that this was going to happen or that you cannot simply “quit” the Army like any other type of job.

    He needs to go to JAG right now rather then stick with his new “friends”.

  29. lovemylife0721 says:

    well he did go to his chain of command and tried to get help with the issue and as far as his new friends. He is alreay in cinfinement i belive. so he can still talk to jag?

  30. Sporkmaster says:

    Before of after he went AWOL.

    Because it is important to not that the military is not obligated to help the non-immediate family. But with the immediate such as the kids hi might have gotten help. But him going AWOL changed that putting it out of the hands of his immediate command.

    Some important things to know is how many days was he AWOL. was it under or over 30. Also because he went AWOL he is viewed as a flight risk, that is why he is behind bars. I believe that he can have a representative ask on his behalf.

    Also find out what actions are being asked for while the representative is at JAG. It could be a Court Martial or a Chapter separation with different types of discharges.

    Here is the basic rights for those that are in the military.

    But if this is about worrying about how to take care of his family then do not get suckered into him saying that this is because the deployment is Illegal. He will be viewed differently depending on the reason why he went AWOL.

  31. lovemylife0721 says:

    Well i have had the chance to talk to his wife and she said that he went to his chain of command, before going awol and that they bacically did not care about their situation. Also the main reason he went awol is because of his mothers help. Not because of deployment. It was a court martial i do belive.

  32. lovemylife0721 says:

    sorry i ment health

  33. Daniel says:

    The underlying problem that everyone has is that he went AWOL. As many people on this blog have stated, the worst possible response to any problem in the Army is to go AWOL.

    If the Soldier did go to his Chain of Command and they didn’t care then he should have gone to the BN CDR/CSM, the Chaplain, IG, or one of a dozen other agencies that do care and are there to assist Soldiers with problems similar to this. If by chance none of these agencies cared, he could then write his Congressional representative. In the end, there are an infinite number of solutions to this problem that don’t involve going AWOL.

    Once he went AWOL, UCMJ actions is required at some level (discretion of the commander). Therefore, they can’t complain about their predicament, or what the Army is doing, because they caused it through their own actions.

  34. lovemylife0721 says:

    Well he knows what he did was wrong and he would take it back. If he could do it over he would have never left but he can not and he is doing his time. So i do not know why you are being like that. He made a bad decision now he is paying so why keep going on about it?

  35. CPT Me says:

    He made a bad decision to go AWOL and then made another bad decision by getting suckered into representation by an unethical activist attorney with a horrible track record. Factor in the fact that a free JAG defense counsel who would expertly advocate for the sole interest of his client, and you see why people view this guy as in an unflattering light. His best way to rectify is to fire Branum, ask for JAG defense counsel of which the Army is required to provide, and watch how things drastically improve.

  36. Daniel says:

    I believe the only reason his family came up on this blog was due to his choice of representation and that representations decision to publicize for donations (50% of which is going to him).

    I empathize with the family and respect his decision to face the consiquences but his attorney did him no favors. If he had used his government appointed representation he might have recieved a more lenient sentence and wouldn’t have legal fees to pay.

  37. Sporkmaster says:

    But understand that the Military is only obligated to take care of the immediate family and not the extended one to include parents. So understand that your not going to get more money on a regular bases to take care of other needs unless you have more time in service or get promoted. Something that it sounded like this was going to be. Also you going to be busy with taking care of the three kids on a E-1 Salary.

    All that needs to be put aside for the moment and find out what type of Court Martial they are asking for. Because in a Summary you will not be allowed a Lawyer present, but the punishments are less severe then a Special or a General one.

    Here is some of the punishments he could face depending on what the Army wants to do. That is why you should advise your friend to get in contact with JAG first thing on Monday.

  38. lovemylife0721 says:

    He does also have a TDS appointed person and it did not help at all. But it is what it is. But the way some people have Really put his family down is sad. Also i just want to add that the reason they did nit use BIRTH CONTROL is cause they were both working GREAT jobs and could support thier parents and take care of their kids. she is a CNA and goes to school for RN. He had a great job making over 2,000 just himself.

  39. Sporkmaster says:

    Just remember that Court procedures take a lot of time and can be very frustrating.

    We can talk about what should have/ could have but that is not going to help him out right now.

    What needs to be the focus is what charges are being leveled against him in order see what can be reduced or dismissed. If he is out of confinement,(which it sounds like he is) that he talks daily with his Lawyer or their representative about what is going on. Consider character statements on his behalf. What was he like at work on a regular bases? Was this AWOL thing a one time mess up or was this a pattern of regular events. If you have people that can make such written statement in official form that will also help him. But expect a good amount of waiting and with other cases pending besides yours, you may not be at the top of the pile. So always try to keep in touch with your representative.

  40. lovemylife0721 says:

    you have been alot of help, but he is still in confinement.

  41. lovemylife0721 says:

    thanks you. You have been helpfull and yes, Bulechek is still in confinement.

  42. NHSparky says:

    “He had a great job making over 2,000 just himself.”

    $2K a month? That’s barely minimum wage. Hardly great.

  43. Sporkmaster says:

    A few questions about the time line.

    He joined in 2006, and went AWOL for a undisclosed amount of time. (Was it greater then 30 days?) Before he went AWOL what was his highest rank?

    He was arrested in February 2010. Since February he has several photos of himself outside confinement with some in New Mexico. When people are picked up for going AWOL they are shipped back to their home unit which according to his bio story was in Kansas.

    Later it shows him as a E-1 in April 2010 and in a FaceBook posting he claimed that he was doing 24 hour Staff Duty on June 16th. So somewhere he got put into confinement(again?) and has been there ever since?

    With the photos of him being a E-1 and the Staff Duty it sounds like he already received his punishment. Also AKO shows him as being a E-2.

    So any more information you can give me will help him.

  44. lovemylife0721 says:

    well if you want to contact me you can but not on here. I am pretty sure you know how to get a hold of Me. I wish that was all the punishment he got.

  45. Sporkmaster says:

    Ok, make another post and use a email address, once I get it I will delete it of and send you a email.

  46. lovemylife0721 says:


  47. lovemylife0721 says:

    did u get it ?

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