WRITTEN COUNSELING 101
Office of the Staff Judge Advocate
36th Air Base Wing, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
The examples in this guide are intended to simplify the task of taking administrative corrective action. This guide is not a substitute for legal advice. Please contact the Military Justice Division of the Legal Office at 366-2937 for advice on the propriety of any particular action.
Written letters of reprimand, admonishment, and counseling are administrative management tools available to commanders and supervisors to correct subordinates for departures from Air Force standards of performance, conduct, bearing, behavior, or integrity. Commanders and supervisors should use these administrative tools when more formal action under Article 15, Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), or court-martial is inappropriate. A reprimand is considered more severe than an admonition and carries a strong message of official censure. Similarly, an admonition is considered more severe than a simple counseling and is tantamount to a warning against further misconduct. All three are considered administrative and are not, as such, punitive; i.e., no loss of liberty or property may flow from a reprimand or admonition.
A commander or supervisor should reduce a reprimand, admonition, or counseling to writing in most instances. Where a verbal reprimand, admonition, or counseling is given, a commander should nonetheless include documentation in the member’s Personnel Information File (PIF). This guide contains suggested language which may be used as a “do it yourself kit” for formulating the appropriate action. Although Air Force Instructions (AFI) do not mandate a specific form for documenting such actions, AFI 36-2907 requires all counseling, admonitions and reprimands which are reduced to writing to include the following:
→ What the member did or failed to do and what behavior is expected;
→ That further deviation may result in more serve action;
→ A Privacy Act statement;
→ That the member has three duty days in which to submit documents for consideration;
→ Anything submitted will become part of the record;
For enlisted members, entry of a Letter of Reprimand (LOR), Letter of Admonition (LOA), or Letter of Counseling (LOC) into an Unfavorable Information File (UIF) is optional, but should be considered depending on the severity of the offense. Only a commander has the authority to place the letter into a member’s PIF, but the issuer of the letter may recommend that the commander do so. The UIF entry decision must be made contemporaneously with the action.
For an enlisted recipient of corrective administrative action, commanders should consider entry of the action into the recipient’s PIF at a minimum. A failure to include a record of corrective administrative action in the PIF lessens the corrective impact of the action and, if the member is later convicted of an offense at court-martial, may preclude consideration of the action for sentencing purposes at trial. A legible LOR, LOA or LOC to which the member has had an opportunity to respond and which the unit has maintained in the recipient’s PIF may be introduced as aggravating evidence in the sentencing phase of a court-martial.
A commander notifies an LOR, LOA, or LOC recipient of the commander’s intent to file the action in a UIF by using AF Form 1058. In order to be included, the letter must show, on its face that the recipient has receipted for the document. The document must also show that the recipient was given three (3) workdays to prepare and submit rebuttal comments. If the recipient falls to respond within three workdays, the commander may proceed, noting the individual’s failure to respond. If the commander ultimately decides to include the LOR or LOA in a UIF, the AF Form 1058 is forwarded with attachments (including the member’s comments) to 36 MSS/DPMPE.
Before placing an LOR, LOA or LOC in a member’s file, review the document to ensure the following:
a. The member has signed the document acknowledging receipt.
b. The document clearly states that the member has three duty days to respond (specify the exact day that response is due).
c. Upon expiration of three duty days, a notation is made indicating whether or not a response was submitted by the member. The individual who issued the document should also sign after the notation in order to properly record whether or not a response was received.
DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
PACIFIC AIR FORCES
MEMORANDUM FOR SENIOR AIRMAN JOHN B. SMITH
FROM: MSGT JANE E. DOE
SUBJECT: Letter of Reprimand (or Admonition or Counseling)
1. Investigation has disclosed that on or about 1 Jan 01, you failed to go at the time prescribed to your appointed place of duty, building 23028, Andersen AFB, Guam. (See APPENDIX 1 for sample language)
2. You are hereby reprimanded! In the Air Force, failure to go is a crime. I assure you that many airmen have been given Article 15s and have been court-martialed for similar conduct. This unit, this wing, and indeed, the entire Air Force, cannot function when members become undependable. You have proven that you cannot always be depended upon, and consequently, you have damaged this unit’s mission capabilities. I expect you to work diligently at redeeming yourself and proving that you are dependable. (See APPENDIX 2 for sample language)
3. I sincerely hope you understand the wrongfulness of your conduct and appreciate the seriousness of this action. The magnitude of this matter, together with the lamentable lack of responsibility, judgment and good sense you displayed compel me to caution you that your career is in jeopardy. Any recurrence of this behavior will lead to more serious consequences. (See APPENDIX 3 for sample language)
4. AUTHORITY: 5 U.S.C. 552a. PURPOSE: To obtain any comments or documents you desire to submit (on a voluntary basis) for consideration concerning this action. ROUTINE USES: Provides you an opportunity to submit comments or documents for consideration. If provided, the comments and documents you submit become a part of the action. DISCLOSURE: Your written acknowledgment of receipt and signature are mandatory. Any other comment or document you provide is voluntary. (This paragraph is required and should never be altered or omitted)
5. You will acknowledge receipt below. I will provide you with a copy of this letter. You have three (3) duty days from the date of this letter to provide a response. Any comments or documents you wish to be considered concerning this letter must be included with your response. (This paragraph is required and should never be altered or omitted)
JANE E. DOE, MSgt, USAF
NCOIC, Support Element
1st Ind., SENIOR AIRMAN JOHN B. SMITH
TO: MSGT JANE E. DOE
1. I acknowledge receipt and understanding on (Date)
2. I understand that I have three (3) workdays from the date of this letter to provide a response, and that I must include in my response any comments or documents I wish to be considered concerning this letter.
SENIOR AIRMAN JOHN B. SMITH
2nd Ind., MSGT JANE E. DOE Date
Member (did) (did not) provide written matters in response to this letter.
JANE E. DOE, MSGT, USAF
NCOIC, Support Element
NOTE 1: In accordance with AFI 36-2907, the member has three duty days to provide a response. To avoid confusion, ensure that the letter is dated and served on the same day. If the member refuses to acknowledge receipt when the letter is served, record the refusal by writing “member refused to acknowledge” in the member’s signature block, with the date and the initials of the individual issuing the letter. The second endorsement should be completed regardless of whether the member acknowledges at the time they are given the letter.
NOTE 2: Any written matters submitted by the member become part of the action and must be attached to and maintained with the letter.
NOTE 3: You need not give the original of the letter to the member. A copy will suffice so long as the original is properly signed and endorsed. In order to protect the original, you may serve a copy on the member and attach the response to the original.
NOTE 4: The examples listed in this guide are intended to simplify the task of producing written counseling and are not all inclusive. They are simply examples for your use. You should feel free to express the member’s misconduct and your thoughts on the matter in your own words. However, remember that this guide is not a substitute for legal advice.
**If you have any question, please contact the Military Justice Division of the Legal Office at 366-2937 for advice on the propriety of any particular action.**
SAMPLE FORMS OF ALLEGATIONS
Paragraph 1 should clearly identify the basis for the letter (what the member did or failed to do). It should also cite dates, on or about dates, or inclusive dates of identified deficiencies, acts or events.
APPEARANCE AND DRESS STANDARDS: Investigation has disclosed that you violated a lawful general (order) (regulation) at Andersen AFB, Guam, on or about (date) by (wearing a dirty uniform in violation of AFI 36-2903) (not having your hair cut within the standards prescribed by AFI 36-2903).
ASSAULT: Investigation has disclosed that you assaulted (name), (a fellow airman, a security policeman, your superior commissioned officer, your superior NCO, your spouse), on or about (date) at Andersen AFB, Guam, by (describe assault; for example, “by hitting him/her in the face with your fist”).
CHECK, ISSUING WORTHLESS: Investigation has disclosed that on or about (date) at (location) you issued a check drawn on (name of financial institution) to (name) in the amount of $ and (you knowingly failed to maintain sufficient funds in your account to pay such check; you did so with the intent to defraud the named payee; or you did so with the intent to deceive (name).
CIVILIAN CONVICTION/MISCONDUCT: An incident report received by me has disclosed that on (date), you were convicted by the (name of convicting court) in (name of town or county) for driving while intoxicated, a violation of the (cite statute). (Attach a copy of the incident report to the letter).
COMMUNICATE A THREAT: Investigation has disclosed that on or about (date) at (location) you communicated a threat to (name), (a fellow airman, a civilian) by (saying ________) (communicating to him/her your intention to injure his/her property), or words to that effect.
CONSPIRACY: Investigation has disclosed that on or about (date) at (location), you conspired with others to commit (type of offense). Specifically, you and (name) agreed to (describe the crime that they conspired to commit.)
DAMAGE MILITARY PROPERTY: Investigation has disclosed that on or about (date) at (location) you (willfully) (negligently) damaged military property, to wit: (describe property damage).
DAMAGE PERSONAL PROPERTY: Investigation has disclosed that on or about (date) at (location) you (willfully) (negligently) damaged personal property, to wit: (describe property damage).
DEBTS, DISHONORABLE FAILURE TO PAY: Investigation has disclosed that on or about (date) at (location) you dishonorably failed to pay your debts, which were then due and payable, to wit: (describe debts).
DEPENDENTS, FAILURE TO SUPPORT: Investigation has disclosed that from about (date) to about (date) you failed to support your (wife, husband, child(ren), family or dependents).
DERELICTION OF DUTY: Investigation has disclosed that on or about (date) at Andersen AFB, Guam, you were derelict in the performance of your duties, in that you (willfully) (negligently) failed to (describe dereliction).
DISOBEY A LAWFUL ORDER: Investigation has disclosed that on or about (date) at Andersen AFB, Guam, you failed to obey a lawful order given to you by (name), your (supervisor, superior officer, superior NCO, NCOIC, commander), to (police your work area) on (date).
DISORDERLY CONDUCT: Investigation has disclosed that you were, at (location), on or about (date), (disorderly) (drunk and disorderly) (in a public place) (on station), to wit: at or near (location).
DISRESPECT: Investigation has disclosed that you were disrespectful to (name), (your superior commissioned officer; your superior noncommissioned officer; etc.), by (saying or using words to that effect; turning and walking away while he/she was talking to you) on or about (date) at Andersen AFB, Guam, or other (location).
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED: Investigation has disclosed that you operated a motor vehicle while intoxicated on or about (date) at Andersen AFB, Guam, or other (location).
FAILURE TO GO: Investigation has disclosed that on or about (date) you failed to go at the time prescribed to your appointed place of duty, building (number), Andersen AFB, Guam.
FAILURE TO PASS CDC/EOC: You have, for the (first, second, third) time, failed your Career Development Course (CDC) or End-of-Course Examination (EOC).
FALSE OFFICIAL STATEMENT: Investigation has disclosed that on or about (date) at (location) you made a false official statement to wit: (accomplished a statement of witness/complainant at the security police desk and knowingly included false information).
INTOXICATION: Investigation has disclosed that you were drunk on duty at Andersen AFB, Guam, on or about (date).
LEAVING PLACE OF DUTY: Investigation has disclosed that you left your place of duty, building (number), Andersen AFB, Guam, without authority on or about (date).
RECEIPT OF STOLEN PROPERTY: Investigation has disclosed that on or about (date) at (location) you knowingly (received, bought or concealed) stolen property, to wit: (describe property).
SEXUAL HARASSMENT: I am reprimanding you for unprofessional conduct towards male/female airmen subordinate to you. Your behavior towards (victim’s name) on or about (date, or during the past years) falls within the realm of sexual harassment. Your (suggestive comments, unauthorized touching or indecent gestures) has/have been substantiated by corroborative witnesses. (On (date), you presented a gift to a male/female airmen subordinate assigned to the (squadron). The gift consisted of___________. The airman has stated that nothing in his/her prior relationship with you could be construed as an indication that he/she would willingly accept a sexually suggestive gift of this nature). (Your bad judgment is further underscored by the fact that your are married).
WRONGFUL APPROPRIATION: Investigation has disclosed that on or about (date) at (location) you wrongfully appropriated (military, personal) property for (your own use, the unauthorized use of another person).
SAMPLE REPRIMANDS AND ADMONITIONS
Paragraph 2 should outline the improvement expected and leave no doubt that further deviation from established standards may result in other more severe action.
APPEARANCE AND DRESS STANDARDS: You may not consider haircut instructions important, but I assure you that I do. If I cannot depend upon you to follow AFI 36-2903, I cannot depend upon you to follow other orders. Henceforth,. I expect you to be a model of AFI 36-2903 standards. A repetition of this or any other violation will be dealt with more severely. (Modify for other AFI 36-2903 violations).
ASSAULT: I want you to know that your conduct was criminal. Many people have received Article 15s and have been court-martialed for the crime of assault. People have the right to be secure in their person from fear of bodily harm at the hands of another. Regardless of how you feel, I will not tolerate you resorting to assault to solve your problems. The Air Force and this unit cannot tolerate the adverse consequences of your behavior, and you cannot afford the sanctions that a repeat performance will cause. Henceforth, I expect you to be an exemplary model for your subordinates and your peers.
CHECK, ISSUING WORTHLESS: I want you to realize that issuing a worthless check is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Your misconduct should have resulted in Article 15 or court-martial action. You have adversely affected you fellow airmen by blemishing the fine image which they project. I fully expect you never to resort to such behavior again. If you do, expect stronger and quicker action to be taken against you.
CIVILIAN CONVICTION/MISCONDUCT: You are hereby reprimanded for the incident outlined above. Military custom and tradition require a high standard of conduct of all airmen. This standard of conduct relates not only to military duties, but the discharge of your civic responsibilities and your relation with the civilian community. You are well aware that as an airman you are duty-bound to hold sacred the honor and prestige of the United States Air Force in your duty and in your community. (Irrespective of the circumstances surrounding this incident, it is completely unacceptable to me to have as a member of my command one who seemingly is unable to maintain good relations with civilian authorities). (The seriousness of this matter, together with the lack of responsibility, judgment and good sense you displayed on this occasion, compels me to caution you that any recurrence can only jeopardize your career). By your actions, you have caused discredit to fall upon this organization and the Air Force.
COMMUNICATE A THREAT: By communicating a threat to ______ you committed a crime. The Congress of the United States and I share the common belief that no one should have to be subjected to your threats. I expect you to handle any differences you have with any person in a legal and mature fashion. Do not be deceived into thinking that you have a license to misbehave by the lenient manner in which I have treated you. I will take harsher action for any further misconduct.
CONSPIRACY: I want you to realize that conspiring with others to commit a crime is, in itself, a crime. As a member of the military, you must always abstain from criminal conduct. Your action has brought
discredit upon this unit and yourself. Consider yourself fortunate because Article 15 and even court-martial action is warranted by your conduct. I expect you to redeem yourself by hard work and a clean record, and to never again conduct yourself in such a manner.
DAMAGING MILITARY PROPERTY: I want you to understand that damaging military property is a crime. The damage you caused has resulted in needless expenses for repair, waste of manpower, and degradation of mission capabilities. Remember that you are in the Air Force to enhance mission capabilities, not to detract from them. Consider this statement a forewarning that your future conduct will be more closely scrutinized and know that any more misbehavior will result in my taking stronger action against you.
DAMAGING PERSONAL PROPERTY: By damaging the personal property of another, you committed a crime. Consider yourself fortunate that you are only being reprimanded, but note that any recurrence will result in harsher sanctions. Each person has the right to believe that other-people will respect his property, but you have shown that any such beliefs in you are ill-founded. You and you alone have the opportunity to restore the faith of others in you. I believe that this should be your goal, but even if this is not important to you, you had better heed this warning and refrain from further misconduct of any type.
DEBTS, DISHONORABLE FAILURE TO PAY: By falling to pay your just debts, you have brought discredit upon yourself and the United States Air Force. As an Air Force member, you are expected and required to manage your financial affairs in a way which ensures that your creditors receive what is rightly owed them. Your conduct has tarnished the high regard most businessmen have for Air Force members. I hope that you have seen the error of your ways, and I expect you to become a model airman. I will not be as lenient with you if you repeat the same misconduct.
DEPENDENTS, FAILURE TO SUPPORT: Your monthly compensation is increased because of your obligations to your dependents and I fully expect you to meet those obligations. Failure to support one’s dependents casts a particularly unpleasant shadow over both you and the Air Force.
DERELICTION OF DUTY: If any task is worth doing, it is worth doing well. At a minimum, it is worth doing satisfactorily. By definition, your dereliction fell below minimum standards and was the result of conscious behavior. In addition to being irresponsible, it is a crime. In the future, I expect you to take more pride in your job and in helping this unit accomplish its mission. Rest assured that I will be watching you closely, and in the event you degrade this unit’s mission again by your dereliction, I will take swift and sure action against you.
DISOBEY A LAWFUL ORDER: I want you to know that I consider disobeying a lawful order to be one of the most serious offenses an Air Force member can commit. Strict adherence to orders is the only way that any military force anywhere in the world can execute its mission, whether that mission is offensive or defensive. Our unit is no different. You have damaged its mission capability by identifying yourself as one who cannot be depended upon to perform as ordered. You are going to have to strive diligently if you ever hope to reestablish your dependability. Any repetition of this totally unacceptable behavior will result in stronger action against you.
DISORDERLY: Military custom and tradition require a high standard of conduct of all airmen, particularly non-commissioned officers. This standard of conduct relates not only to performance of military duties but the discharge of your civic responsibilities and your relations with the civilian community. The seriousness of this matter, together with the lamentable lack of responsibility, judgment and common sense displayed on this occasion, compel me to caution you that any recurrence can only jeopardize your career. Your actions have caused me to question your ability to perform as an NCO. I expect you to heed these remarks and act accordingly in the future.
DISRESPECT: I will not tolerate disrespect by anyone in this organization toward any of their superiors. Your disrespect has been detrimental to unit morale and discipline. I fully expect you will never repeat such conduct. If you do, expect more serious consequences.
DRIVING RECKLESSLY: Reckless driving is a criminal act. By issuing you a driver’s license, the state has permitted you to operate a useful, yet potentially dangerous instrumentality, an automobile. The Air Force has also permitted you to operate your automobile on Andersen AFB, Guam. You have abused the trust placed in you by your reckless driving. (You have also jeopardized the safety the Air Force members and Air Force property).
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED: Driving while intoxicated is a crime. It is also a dangerously irresponsible act. You did not care who occupied the roadway with you while you were intoxicated, nor did you consider the consequences of drinking and driving not only on yourself but innocent individuals whom you may come into contact with while driving. The Air Force cannot afford to lose people, its most valuable resource, because you choose to drink and drive. I absolutely will not tolerate this deplorable behavior. You are most fortunate that you did not harm anyone by choosing to drink and drive. If you ever drink and drive again, I will take the most severe action allowable against you. Many airmen have received Article l5s or have been court-martialed for driving while intoxicated. I hope that you do not fall victim to thinking that the lenient manner in which I am handling your offense gives you a license to continue such criminal behavior or indicates that I condone drunken driving. I am, in fact, appalled by your conduct, conduct that has discredited you and blemished the image of all airmen. If you do not take this opportunity to prove your potential, or if you involve yourself in any further misconduct, I will take much stronger action.
FAILURE TO GO: In the Air Force, failure to go is a crime. I assure you that many airmen have been given Article 15s and have been court-martialed for similar conduct. This unit, this wing, and indeed, the entire Air Force, cannot function when members become undependable. You have proven that you cannot always be depended upon, and consequently, you have damaged this unit’s mission capabilities. I expect you to work diligently at redeeming yourself and proving that you are dependable.
FAILURE TO PASS CDC/EOC: You are hereby reprimanded. Your failure to pass your CDC/EOC shows a lack of responsibility on your behalf. You were made aware of the importance of successfully passing your CDC/EOC, yet you failed for the ________time. You are hereby advised that failure of your CDC/EOC places severe jeopardy on your Air Force career.
FALSE OFFICIAL STATEMENT: In the Air Force, making a false official statement is a criminal act.
You can consider yourself fortunate because many airmen have received Article 15s or have been court-martialed for such deplorable conduct. I cannot and will not tolerate this type of behavior in this unit. Untruths and half-truths degrade the mission of the Air Force, a mission which can only be accomplished by trustworthy people. Having identified yourself as one requiring close supervision, you can expect to have your future actions closely scrutinized. Rest assured that I will react strongly to any further misbehavior on your part.
INTOXICATION: I absolutely will not tolerate on-duty intoxication from any person in this organization. You are paid and fully expected to be able to do your job everyday. Because of your intoxication, you failed to do your job, jeopardized unit safety, and seriously damaged the morals in this unit. I expect you to never repeat such deplorable conduct or misbehave in any other way. If you do, I will take stronger action against you.
LEAVING PLACE OF DUTY: By leaving your place of duty without authority, you committed a crime. By your conduct, you proved that you are not trustworthy. Further, you injured this unit’s mission’s capabilities. I will not tolerate any further conduct of this kind. Also, I will be closely monitoring your performance to see if you are up to the task of redeeming yourself.
RECEIPT OF STOLEN PROPERTY: Knowingly (receiving, buying, or concealing) stolen property is a crime. By engaging in such conduct, you aided a thief in covering his steps and profiting from his criminal conduct. You also brought disrespect upon yourself and the United States Air Force. I will not tolerate further misconduct by you of any type.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT: I have reviewed your service record and it convinces me that you can still make valuable contributions to the Air Force, outside of your career field. However, you must closely examine your attitude and behavior towards females to avoid more severe penalties in the future. Counseling from the Military Equal Opportunity Office may be appropriate if you have any question in your mind on what constitutes appropriate or inappropriate behavior. (Your highly suggestive and inappropriate gift is precisely the type of conduct prohibited by AFI 36-2701). The offer of unwarranted sexual attention creates an intimidating and offensive environment for the recipient of such attention, to the prejudice of good order and discipline. Conduct of this nature will not be tolerated.
WRONGFUL APPROPRIATION: Wrongfully appropriating (military, your fellow airman’s or name) property is a crime. I will not tolerate theft by anyone in this organization. By your conduct, you created animosity within this unit and damaged its mission capabilities. Additionally, your misconduct has brought discredit upon yourself. I expect you to never repeat such unpardonable behavior. Should you decide to not heed this warning, harsher punishment will be forthcoming.
I sincerely hope you understand the wrongfulness of your conduct and appreciate the seriousness of this action. The magnitude of this matter, together with the lamentable lack of responsibility, judgment and good sense you displayed compel me to caution you that your career is in jeopardy. Any recurrence of this behavior will lead to more serious consequences.
Be advised that if another derogatory incident concerning you is brought to my attention, I shall no longer be in doubt regarding your competence as a professional, or in fact, the need for you to remain a member of the United States Air Force. The same forcefulness you have exhibited in attaining your present grade and performing your military duties must now be channeled to the exercise of your personal affairs.
1. The Manual for Courts-Martial, 2000
2. The Military Commander and the Law, 2000
3. AFI 36-2907, Air Force Unfavorable Information File Program
4. AFI 51-201, Military Justice Guide
“Discipline is the soul of an army”
-- George Washington