Retired General Mocks First Lady Jill Biden on X, Army Gets Involved

By: Ben Campbell | Last updated: Nov 07, 2023

A retired lieutenant general of the US Army was recently subjected to investigation after making a post seen as unethical via his X account.

Despite the fact that retired Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky is no longer in active service, higher-ups and policymakers in the Army have ruled that his comment in response to a tweet by Jill Biden was unacceptable.

Investigating a Senior Army Officer

The military had no problem with the retired army chief sharing his personal opinion on social media. However, the report generated after investigating him concluded that his conduct violated the guidelines governing the use of social media by military personnel.

Volesky and other senior officers at a Semi-annual Commander's Conference

Source: HQMC

Interestingly, Volesky was responsible for crafting those guidelines during his years of active service.

The Tweet That Got Everyone Talking

The army is often modest about its activities and seldom tries to make the morning headlines.

Volesky's responds to Jill Biden's post about the Supreme Court’s 2022 anti-abortion ruling in a tweet

Source: tendies/

In a 2022 post on X that roused the entire drama, First Lady Jill Biden expressed her displeasure at the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn women’s right to abortion. In response, Volesky posted “Glad to see you know what a woman is.”

Ethics of Military Personnel

The army, like many other public institutions, tries to stay neutral on issues of religion, and recently gender identities. Volesky’s comment has been opined to be bad publicity for the military, since it has hints of transphobic sentiment.

Insignia of the United States Department of Defense reserved for unoffiial use by third parties

Source: US Army/Wikimedia Commons

The retired general eventually deleted the post. However, he was suspended from his consultation role after US Today reported the case.

Why Did Volesky Still Have a Job With the Army After Retirement?

You may wonder how Volesky still had a job with the US Army, even after his retirement.

Volesky addressing personnel of the I Corps

Source: I Corps/Facebook

Well, it turns out Volesky had an exceptional record during his active years. He won a Silver Star Medal for gallantry in Iraq and rendered public relations services for the Army. With such a record, he was contracted after his retirement to advise the federal government on military affairs.

USA Today Report Triggers the Investigation

Soon after the USA Today article about Volesky’s social media gaffe went public, his post-retirement affiliations with the federal government were severed.

Entrance of Fort Leavenworth, where Retd. Lt. Gen. Volesky was serving

Source: US Army

However, almost like it was premeditated, Volesky had sent a signal to the US Army three days before the queried post, indicating that he would love to end his role with the federal government. It was a contract that had Volesky earning $92 per hour.


Volesky Claims to Be a Private Citizen

During the investigation, Volesky was questioned to find out if he indeed replied to Jill Biden’s tweet, as reported by US Today.

Volesky in full ceremonial wear as he addresses staff and cadets

Source: Modern War/Flickr

The retired general affirmed the questioning and proceeded to wonder aloud why everyone was making such a fuss about his tweet. According to him, he had already resigned from the government’s employ at the time he made the opinion in question public.


An Illustrious Military Career

Volesky had a very productive time in the Army before retiring in 2020. However, in the period between his 2020 retirement and August 2021, Volesky earned $50,000 as a Pentagon adviser.

Volesky receiving a Joint Meritorious Unit Award for OUA (Operation United Assistance) mission

Source: Africom/US Army

Between September 2021 and June 2022, when Volesky willfully resigned, he earned another $19,000. However, this is a fraction of what retired officers who consulted for the army before 2009 earned.


The Former Lucrative Mentorship Program

Compared to Volesky’s $92 per hour, the previous retired officers’ mentorship program offered the retired senior personnel $300 per hour. That was before a 2009 investigation by USA Today made the arrangement public knowledge.

Students of US Naval postgraduate brainstorming solutions for the nation’s most urgent security concerns via analytic wargames

Source: Javier Chagoya/Wikimedia Commons

Ironically, many of the retired generals who received the $300/hour compensation were at the time working simultaneously for private defense firms or owned one themselves.


Ties Between the Armed Forces and Defense Contractors

In the pre-2009 Army mentorship program, interests were not undivided. The retired generals were required to drill personnel in war games and train them to use sophisticated new defense systems.

General Volesky briefing personnel with a pen light

Source: I Corps/Facebook

Meanwhile, the 2009 USA Today investigation revealed that these retired generals were almost always also affiliated with the defense companies supplying the military gear and systems.


No Future Hope Serving the US Army

After his 2022 response to Jill Biden’s post, the commanding officer who had direct oversight of Volesky suspended the retired general from all present and future engagements with the US Army.

Military personnel thumbing a smartphone

Source: US Army

Interestingly, the report of the committee that investigated Volesky’s comment referred to an “Army Social Media Guide,” which was coincidentally published in 2013 and bears the signature of the then-Brigadier General Volesky.


The Final Verdict

According to the Army Social Media Guide, all military personnel – active, reserve, or retired, and particularly those in leadership roles – need to monitor their use of social media.

Hind view of Volesky in an army cap as USARAF transfers mission to 101st Airborne Division

Source: Will Patterson/Flickr

The guide encourages personnel to use social media like they each were public relations officers for the Army. Eventually, the investigative committee found no fault with Volesky’s comment but recommended that senior personnel be trained on the appropriate use of social media.