The Army has announced that Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the transgender soldier and convicted national security secret leaker, will remain an active-duty, unpaid soldier, eligible for health care and other benefits, following her release on May 27 from military prison.
Army spokesman Dave Foster said that Manning will remain a private in the Army while her court-martial conviction remains under appeal. As an active duty soldier, Manning will continue to receive health care as well have access to commissaries and military exchanges, although she won't get to draw salaries. Foster said Manning is considered on excess leave in an active duty status pending appellate review.
The Army, however, refused to share information on the other terms of Manning's release due to privacy concerns. It's still six years before Manning's eligibility for parole. She has been sentenced to 35 years for releasing hundreds of thousands of secret documents to WikiLeaks. Manning still appeared at the court martial in the uniform of an enlisted man. Manning will be assigned to an Army post but it is still unclear where and to whom she will report.
Manning entered prison still a man named Bradley. Manning later changed her name and chose to identify as a woman and got for herself hormone treatment and care for gender dysphoria while incarcerated. Her sex reassignment surgery was paid for by the government. Her sentence was commuted in the dying days of the Obama administration, something that angered those in the military and then President-elect Donald Trump.
During his early days in office as the new President of the U.S., Trump slammed Obama's decision to commute Manning's sentence, as well as Manning for criticizing Obama. Manning had written a column then saying Obama had failed to fulfill his promises. Trump even tweeted: "Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader. Terrible."
The ACLU released a statement on Manning's behalf last week, where Manning said that for the first time, she can see a future for herself as Chelsea. She said she can imagine surviving and living as the person that she is and can finally be in the outside world. Manning's lawyer, Chase Strangio, claimed that Manning had been abused at Leavenworth but did not specify what kind of abuse, how she was abused and who her abusers are.
Should Manning's appeal of her conviction be denied, she could be dishonorably discharged which means being cut off of all her benefits including health care.