Fact Check: Marines Attending Event At Mar-A-Lago DID Have Permission To Wear Uniforms -- It Was Charity Event

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Marines Attending Event At Mar-A-Lago DID Have Permission To Wear Uniforms -- It Was Charity Event Marines OK'd

Did the Marines wear their uniforms without permission at a fundraiser at former President Donald Trump's Florida home Mar-a-Lago? No, that's not true: The event was a charitable fundraiser for Grey Team, a nonprofit that raises awareness about suicide prevention for veterans and the military. The gathering was not a political event and the former president was not present. The Marine Corps approved the troops' appearance in uniform at the event, the co-founder of Grey Team told Lead Stories.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Facebook on April 14, 2024, with the caption "Under Department of Defense regulations, active-duty military members can attend political events -- but not while wearing their uniforms." The post included a photo of uniformed Marines with guests at the event with this text overlay:


This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of the writing of this fact check:

Screen Shot 2024-04-17 at 11.45.44 AM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Apr 19 22:27:03 2024 UTC)

Cary Reichbach, the co-founder of the Grey Team nonprofit (archived here) and an Army veteran, told Lead Stories via phone on April 18, 2024, that the Marines in the photo had permission from the Marine Corps to wear their uniforms at the event. He said he invited the Marines to their fundraiser, held at Mar-a-Lago for the America First Gala, which raised funds to prevent suicide by veterans.

Reichbach spoke about inviting the Marines to the event:

You know, Donald Trump was not invited. He did not enter the ballroom at any time. He did not speak, he was not at all part of this.

The actual forms that were filled out by myself guaranteed that this was not a political function in writing. And in fact, everyone who spoke had to submit their talking points to me in entirety so that they were not allowed to speak on anything political. It was all supposed to be about veterans and the suicide crisis, which is exactly what happened.

He detailed why the Marines were invited:

We always have a color guard as well because a lot of our donors and a lot of our patrons are people who actively support the military.

We encourage the active-duty soldiers and reservists who come to our event, the color guard and so on, to interact with the donors and patrons because it bridges that gap between the civilian population and the military, which, you know, one percent of the population are serving.

Reichbach said the criticism of the Marines was unfounded:

When you do color guard, which I was a part of in the U.S. Army, you don't wear medals and name tapes. Everybody should look similar. And also, those medals worn underneath the white harness that carries the flag would get skewed and interrupt the flow. So, you take all that off prior to performing those duties and then you put them on when you're no longer in that function. So, the Marines were photographed getting ready to perform color guard. So they had no name tapes or medals on and they were criticized heavily by people who have no idea what they're talking about saying they weren't real Marines, they were fake Marines.

The Grey Team posted a video on their Facebook page showing the event:

The Marine Corps confirmed to Military.com (archived here) that reserve members from the 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, or ANGLICO, color guard attended the event:

'When the photo was taken, the Marines were not actively executing the color guard,' Lt. Col. Craig Thomas, a spokesperson for Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces South, told Military.com via email. 'They were preparing when approached by gala guests for a photo opportunity. The photo was impromptu, hence the more approachable posture.'

The Marine Corps released a statement to the publication about their attendance:

The request was reviewed by Marine Forces Reserve Community Relations and deemed eligible for support. The event was open to the public and helped raise awareness about military and veteran suicides. The event was neither a political fundraiser, nor was the 45th president of the United States in attendance.

The Department of Defense policy regarding uniforms (archived here), effective July 13, 2021, states on page three when wearing a uniform is forbidden specifically mentioning political activities:

(2) During or in connection with furthering political activities, private employment, or commercial interests, when an inference of official sponsorship by DoD or the Military Service concerned for the activity or interest may be drawn.

Lead Stories contacted the Marine Corps for comment about the claim, and will update this story when a response is received.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about the Marines can be found here.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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