The younger son of Vice President Joe Biden failed a drug test for cocaine, a month after his commissioning last year into the Navy Reserve and was discharged.
Hunter Biden, an ensign, had been selected for commission as a reserve officer through the Direct Commission Officer program in 2012, according to Cmdr. Ryan Perry, a Navy spokesman. He was commissioned into the Navy Reserve unit for Navy Public Affairs Support Element East in Norfolk, Va. Biden, who had no prior military experience, was one of six officers commissioned nationally into the Navy Reserve public affairs division.
"It was the honor of my life to serve in the U.S. Navy, and I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge," Biden said in statement issued through his lawyer. "I respect the Navy's decision. With the love and support of my family, I'm moving forward."
The incident was first reported late Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. Citing "people familiar with the matter," it reported that Biden was given a drug test in June 2013 that tested positive for cocaine.
Biden, 44, was discharged from the Navy Reserve in February. He has worked as a lawyer, lobbyist and managing partner at the investment firm Rosemont Seneca Partners in Washington. He was hired in May to join the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine's largest private oil and gas producer, and be in charge of its legal department.
A spokeswoman for the vice president declined to comment.
The term "administrative discharge" can cover several types of military discharges from honorable to general to other-than-honorable conditions. Perry would provide no other details.
"Like other junior officers, the details of Ensign Biden's discharge are not releasable under the Privacy Act," he said.
Asked whether Biden's commissioning had anything to do with his father's high position in the government, Perry said, "No, it didn't.
"All candidates were considered based on the merits of their application, and Mr. Biden met the qualifications for commission," Perry said.
Biden also is the brother of Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.
Applicants to the direct commissioning program for the Public Affairs Reserve must hold a baccalaureate degree or higher from an accredited institution, preferably in the fields of communication, English, journalism, broadcasting, public relations, rhetoric/speech, marketing, international studies or public administration. Applicants may not have passed their 42nd birthday at time of commissioning or an age waiver is required. The board meets twice annually and, on average, about 35 people apply, Ryan said.
Hunter Biden sought and received a waiver to join the service because of his age.
Hunter Biden received a second waiver because of a "drug-related incident when he was a young man," The Wall Street Journal reported. The report added that such waivers are not uncommon.
Vice President Joe Biden joked in January 2013 about his younger son's decision to join the military late in life during a speech at the American Legion's Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball, which honors Medal of Honor recipients.
"We have a lot of bad judgment in my family. "My son, who is over 40, just joined the United States Navy. He's about to be sworn in as an officer," Joe Biden said.
But Hunter Biden joining the military was a source of pride for the Bidens, and military service runs in the family.
Beau Biden is a major in the Delaware Army National Guard and served in Iraq from October 2008 to September 2009.