FORT MEADE, Md. — Twelve years into his career, Special Agent Patrick VanMarter decided to give up the rank of chief warrant officer to chase down a dream he held for over a decade.
It all started in 2004. VanMarter was a mechanic — with the rank of specialist at the time — on active duty at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He saw signs posted across the base recruiting Soldiers to become criminal investigative agents, also known as CID (Criminal Investigation Command).
“I did some research on CID, and thought it would be a really cool job,” said VanMarter.
CID agents work to solve crimes within the Army. This includes investigating crime scenes, domestic violence incidents, and responding to active shooters and hostage negotiations.
“It’s something different every day, making sure we are getting bad people out of the Army’s ranks,” said VanMarter. “If they’re going to commit a crime, like fraud, it means they’re not a good Soldier, and they don’t belong.”
The list of qualification standards to be considered for CID is rather strict and extensive. There are 21 career requirements, which include holding the rank of specialist or sergeant, having a minimum of 60 college credits, serving at least one year as a military police or two years in civilian law enforcement, scoring high on an aptitude test, and clearing a number of background checks.
The only thing VanMarter had at the time was the rank qualification. Over the next 10 years, he would actively chip away at the qualifications, only to be declined by CID four different times.
Once, because he didn’t have enough college credits. Once, because he re-enlisted in the Army Reserve while trying to apply for an active duty CID office position. Another, because of his lack of law enforcement experience, and the last time is where things got complicated.
VanMarter made it all the way to the CID warrant officer course thinking he could change jobs upon graduation, only to be kicked out a week into training. There was a mix up in his enrollment. VanMarter thought he could attend the CID course directly as a maintenance officer, but this was not the case.
A few weeks after returning home from the training, VanMarter received a phone call from Mary Hostetler, the command chief warrant officer for the 200th Military Police Command at the time.
She told him there was a way to fulfill his dream of becoming a CID warrant, but it wasn’t going to be easy.
VanMarter had to accept a reduction in rank and serve as a sergeant for at least two years and complete the criminal investigation basic course.
“I went through hell and high water to give up my rank, because no one knows what to do with someone who wants to give up their rank,” said VanMarter.
The process took over six months.
He was able to start the basic CID course while still a warrant officer, but in order to graduate with a badge and credentials, he had to sport the sergeant stripes.
Within a month of graduating the special agent course, VanMarter volunteered for a deployment to Iraq. Not only did the deployment give him the time and experience he needed for his military career, but it helped him in other ways, as well.
“As much as I’d like to throw a pity party about going from (warrant) down to (sergeant), it wasn’t all bad,” said VanMarter. “The experience I got while deployed (helped) me become an agent in civilian life.”
VanMarter was hired by the Department of Homeland Security as a special agent in February, seven months after returning from his deployment.
However, he faced other struggles in his military career after returning home from his deployment. He was now a sergeant, and all the connections and relationships he had made as a warrant officer were no longer a phone call away. Things were more difficult now. Being at a lower rank came with new restraints. The chain of command suddenly became much longer.
“There’s a certain level of respect you get (while) wearing an officer rank,” said VanMarter. “It was totally different. A real eye-opener. My ego was kicked to the ground.”
VanMarter persevered and served his two years as an enlisted special agent, then applied for his reappointment to warrant officer two in June.
“I can’t tell you why I kept going,” said VanMarter. “Maybe it was because I couldn’t let them beat me by telling me ‘no’ so many times. I owe a lot of my success to Mary Hostetler. She’s like the grandmother I never had.”
Hostetler, who retired from the U.S. Army in January 2017, periodically checked on VanMarter’s reappointment packet by calling the human resources command and ensuring there wasn’t anything holding it back.
“I believe (VanMarter) is exactly what our reserve CID needs as a future leader,” said Hostetler. “Patrick’s will and motivation exemplifies Army excellence.”
Finally, on Oct. 18, VanMarter received his official order, reinstating his rank to chief warrant officer 2.
“It feels good,” said VanMarter. “It’s been a long time coming and despite my setbacks over the years, it’s been a humbling, yet very rewarding experience.”