The holiday season is now upon us, and it’s a mixed bag of feelings for everyone. For some, this means less time to get more done, and for others, it’s a time to kick back and relax. Of course, for security clearance holders, the season can lead to extra precautions and concerns. Have a tendency to fight with a family member? Does alcohol flow freely during this season? You wouldn’t be alone if you answered yes to those questions, but it isn’t something to ignore as a clearance holder, as it can impact your national security career.

Top 3 Thanksgiving Clearance Stories

Understanding the stories that people share provide an opportunity to learn from others. Statistics are helpful in highlighting issues, but it’s the stories that depict the reality behind the numbers. Tune in with the editors at ClearanceJobs as we chat about different clearance scenarios and questions.

1. Battery charge over Thanksgiving

Traveling over the holidays can be stressful, but make sure you don’t lost your cool. One ClearanceJobs Blog user shared their story of going for another job after having an incident over a traffic offense on Thanksgiving.

I received a tentative offer for a job with DHS, I need a non-sensitive Secret Clearance. Feb 19, 2017, I agreed to a pre-trial diversion program for first offenders for a misdemeanor Simple Battery charge. The case was closed out on the 19th of Feb. 2019, the probation officers said my case will be sealed. Due to unemployment I lost my job and a couple of my bills fell behind now since I am working again, I made payment arrangements to get caught up. All this information was disclosed on my SF-86 as well as all the documents was provided to the pre-employment background person. I still haven’t heard anything, and I am worried it’s going on a month’s now. I never been in trouble before this. I have a clearance with another agency, but I know different agencies have different guidelines. I have to explain everything and pretty much throw myself on the mercy of the background person. 

This story highlights the challenges for future employment options – especially when switching agencies. Not an impossible situation for a clearance holder, given the honesty in the process, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t an impact. So, word to the wise this season, don’t give into the road rage or family feuds.

2. Security clearance delays during the holidays?

One security clearance holder hopeful asked if the holiday season impacted background investigations and adjudication. A Federal Soup visitor claimed that federal employees stopped working for the entire month of December, so they were unsure how their clearance would fair during the season of slothfulness and festivities. I’m unsure which federal agency has this policy – otherwise, the federal government would cease to have this alleged talent problem. So, it’s fair to say that federal agencies will still have people in the office during the holidays. and the background investigation process is also largely supported with contracted employees who are paid for the hours billed. Quotas will still need to be met, and quarterly numbers get reported. Whether or not your case will move through investigation or adjudication this season will simply depend on who is working each case – just like every other time of year.

3. Security clearance applicant denied clearance for drinking patterns.

Our last scenario comes from the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA), and is important to highlight, as Americans have been noted to double their drinking during the holiday season. Whether you’re at multiple parties or just elevating your spirits around the home, it’s always wise to monitor your intake – especially if you are driving. Everyone has a different limit, and it’s important to know your own. But this next case also highlights the need to seek help if you’d like to get or maintain a security clearance. In this scenario from DOHA, the government contended that the applicant’s alcohol consumption was excessive and led to questionable judgment or the failure to control impulses. For the government, this raises questions about an individual’s reliability and trustworthiness. While the applicant admitted to the allegations, they did not seek help, which ultimately led to a clearance denial – not just the drinking itself.

DOHA states that they denied a clearance for a 37-year old U.S. Navy veteran who was seeking to obtain a security clearance due to his employment with a defense contractor. They denied it based on Guideline G – Alcohol Consumption, one of the 13 adjudicative guidelines. Specifically, the applicant had been arrest for drunk driving on five separate occasions over the course of 15 years. Some arrests led to jail time, with the final arrest leading to a license suspension, fines, and a required ignition-interlock system in his car, among other requirements. DOHA also includes in the findings that the applicant has never attended in-patient programs or fully worked through the steps of Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings, highlighting the fact that where there are personal struggles, there can still be a place in national security when personal responsibility is exercised.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.