Wait... Chelsea Manning will still be in the Army after he's released?

Chelsea Manning is down to the final 48 hours before he’s sprung from Leavenworth on Wednesday and I’m sure everyone is very excited. But there’s an odd wrinkle in the prisoner’s short term plans which really hadn’t crossed my mind up until now. After his release, Manning will still be in the United States Army. Not only that, he’ll still be eligible for health care benefits, access to base commissary services and some other goodies. (The Hill)

Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the U.S. solider convicted of espionage for leaking national security secrets, will remain an active duty solider after her release from a military prison, according to multiple reports.

Manning, a transgender soldier whose sentence was commuted by President Obama, will not be paid after her May 17 release from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, but will be eligible for healthcare benefits, the Army told USA Today.

Manning changed her name and received hormone treatment while in prison.

I really hadn’t even given the question any consideration to be honest. I’d just assumed that Manning’s time in service would end when he walked out the door. After all, if you think back to the original sentence which was imposed it specified, “35 years in prison, reduction in rank to private (E-1), forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge.” But as it turns out, Barack Obama simply commuted most of the prison term. The rest of it is still under appeal and the Army can’t entirely boot him off the books until that appeal is concluded.

If he’s still in the service but not getting paid (which was specified in the article) does that mean he actually has to show up for work? The USA Today article which originally broke the news isn’t quite clear on that and some of the details of his remaining “service” are being withheld for privacy reason.

Like all soldiers, Manning will be assigned to an Army post but it is unclear where and to whom she will report.

What commander in their right mind would want Manning showing up for muster at their command at this point? One of the reason they had to keep him in solitary in Leavenworth was the worry that one of the other soldiers there might kill him. Our service members aren’t exactly big fans of traitors and having someone who confessed to espionage hanging around isn’t an ideal situation. Of course, the base assignment may just be a paperwork detail because everyone has to be attached to some command on the books. Perhaps he’ll be allowed to simply disappear as far as the military is concerned.

The other immediate question is what sort of military (and taxpayer funded) “health care” Manning will be receiving while the appeal plays out. I’m fairly sure the Army already said they won’t pay for transition surgery, but it probably covers hormones and whatever else he’s taking these days. That’s another one of those details we likely won’t be finding out about due to privacy concerns until his eventual tell all book comes out.