Counseling and Article 15: Leader Responsibilities | AskTOP.net - Leader Development for Army Professionals
Counsel Quick

Counseling and Article 15: Leader Responsibilities

Receiving an Article 15 is a significant emotional event in a Soldier’s life. Leaders sometimes forget how difficult these times can be for Soldiers and their families. While correcting substandard performance is important, it is equally important to plan for the future.

We must make every effort to ensure Soldiers understand they can overcome this event and become a productive member of the team. Conducting an effective counseling session before and after the Article 15 procedure will help the Soldier understand what has happened, why it happened, and how they can move forward in a positive manner. Each level of leadership is responsible for setting the Soldier up for success. The Soldier is responsible for implementing a positive change. With these thoughts in mind I would like to offer the following guidance for dealing with a Soldier facing an Article 15 proceeding:

Counseling before the Article 15

  • Be professional
  • Ensure the Soldier understands the Article 15 is not personal
  • Be empathic
  • Ensure the Soldier understands the importance
    • of accepting responsibility for their actions
    • being honest
    • not making excuses
  • Properly prepare the Soldier by having them get statements or ensure witnesses are available for the Article 15 process.
  • Explain to the Soldier how the process works.
  • Ask the Soldier to think about a punishment they believe would be appropriate (if found guilty). Soldiers can be very hard on themselves and be very inventive with punishments that are meaningful.
  • Talk to the Soldier about preparing a statement to read at the Article 15 proceeding.
  • Explain to the Soldier how to present matters of extenuation or mitigation.
  • If the Soldier is married ask them to speak with their spouse about the potential punishments and how they could effect family life and family finances (less time with family, loss of pay, etc)?

Counseling after the Article 15

Article 15 Counseling

An Article 15 is a significant event in a Soldiers career, but they'll pick themselves up much faster with proper support.

After an Article 15, the Soldier is typically down and not exactly feeling their chipper self. Consider the following items:

  • Regardless of the situation let the Soldier know
    • You care
    • While life is hard now (especially if they are losing a stripe, being chaptered, or being barred), its not the end of the world.
  • Build the Soldier up if at all possible. In some situations this may be difficult depending on the demeanor of the Soldier and the situation.
  • Ensure the Soldier knows they can call you for guidance and support.
  • Provide contact information for the chain of command to the Soldier.
  • You may not know everything that is going on with a Soldier. There may be problems at home, on the job, or financial troubles. The completion of the  Article 15 process  (realization of punishment) may be the straw that pushes the Soldier over the edge in terms of depression or other actions.
  • Don’t be proud of punishing a Soldier!
  • Tell them to put the experience behind them, learn from it, grow from it, and teach others to learn from their mistakes.
  • Let the Soldier know you expect them to:
    • Maintain the standards
    • Complete punishment as required
    • Be professional
  • Let them know you will not hold this incident against them if they correct the substandard performance but if they choose to continue substandard behavior/performance you will utilize the previous Article 15 for actions like: bar to reenlistment or chapter actions.
  • Typically the Soldier will feel bad after the Article 15, don’t do anything to increase this. It’s a good idea to show compassion rather than risk increasing their stress level.
  • Tell the Soldier to go home and talk to their spouse and explain the situation and punishment.

Bottom-line: Ask them to remember the experience because one day they will be a leader making the difficult decision to punish a Soldier, and their decision will effect one or all of the following with regard to the Soldier:

  • Life
  • Family
  • Finances
  • Career
  • Emotions

The soldier should walk away from the process educated and understanding that the leadership cares but will enforce discipline.

If the Soldier walks away with an attitude and a feeling they have been treated unfairly odds are the problem has not been properly addressed.  In most cases you can get through to a Soldier.  In some cases the Soldier may not be able to see the bigger picture.  You can only hope that as time passes the Soldier will see you were fair.

In all cases monitor your Soldiers closely (before, during, and after).

Read The Mentor: Everything you need to know about leadership and counseling for more information about Counseling, Leadership, Corrective Training, and Separations in the Army.

posted on 06/08/2011 under Articles
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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training..

Disclaimer: Though all content posted on AskTOP.net is reviewed by our qualified subject matter experts, you should not make decisions based solely on the information contained in this post. Use information from multiple sources when making important professional decisions. This is not an official government website.

Counsel Quick

    Comments

  • SPC DAVIS

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    I am getting a Field Grade Article 15 for use of Cocaine with out a positive urinalysis. CID did an investigation and it is all based on hearsay. Never been caught with possession or pissed hot. I am so mad at my unit. How can they do this? And what can I do to fight it.

    • SGT NICK

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      You need to talk to TDS but they usually won’t talk to you until you have your first reading. I don’t understand how your packet made it through legal if there is no urinalysis or possession. Exactly what was the story that lead to the investigation would be helpful. Consulting an attorney would also be beneficial, if convicted most units chapter soldiers out for cocaine use. Then again they could be just bluffing as well.

    • Eck

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      SPC Davis,

      When you say you are getting a Field Grade Article 15 I am going to assume you have already received your first reading. If you haven’t, the following applies to after you receive the first reading.

      Once you have received your first reading you must be provided the opportunity to consult with Trial Defense Services (TDS). Normally, you will be escorted by an NCO to this appointment. This NCO will have a copy, if not the original, Article 15 packet, including all evidence, to give to the TDS attorney who see’s you. (The NCO will not be in the meeting with you and your attorney.)

      Your TDS attorney will review the entire packet, including the evidence, with you. At that time, the attorney will advise you if they believe the unit has sufficient evidence to proceed with the UCMJ proceedings. It will be your decision, and you decision alone, whether to accept the article 15 or demand trial by courts-martial. Make sure you ask the attorney what the max punishment for a FG Article 15 vs if you would be found guilty in a courts-martial. This is something to consider when making your decision.

      As far as what evidence the unit is using as a basis for these charges, you will find that out when you consult with your TDS attorney. Article 15’s are processed through your unit’s servicing legal office. Most legal offices will not process an article 15 unless the Trial Counsel believes they have sufficient evidence to win at trial should the Soldier decide to turn down the article 15 and elect courts-martial. However, this is not always the case and you definitely need to consult with TDS.

      I hope this helps.

      Eck

      Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components.

    • Mark Gerecht

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      SPC Davis,
      The Army does not make it a habit of handing out Article 15’s without evidence to do so. As ECk stated there has to be a foundation to make this charge. If there is no foundation JAG typically will not initiate an Article 15. As a leader I never went forward with an Article 15 unless I knew I could win a courts martial. I would encourage you to take a deep breath, try an relax. If you did nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about. TDS will provide you with options including your right to demand trial by courts martial. Depending on the severity of the matter if might also be wise to seek a consultation with a civilian attorney who has a background in military law or previously served as a JAG officer. If you are successful in not being charged or the charge is thrown out you might want to consider asking for a unit transfer.
      Hope this helps and thanks for contacting ASKTOP
      TOP

  • Eck

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    By regulation, (AR 27-10, para 3-29), you have five days from the date of punishment to decide/submit an appeal. If, at the time of punishment you elect to appeal, then you have five days to submit matter.

    If you did not submit matters within that 5 day period, then your appeal will go forward without additional matters. However, it must be forwarded to the appellate authority (next higher in command).

    If, however, at the time of punishment, you elected not to appeal, then your appeal request can be rejected by the appellate authority (See para 3-29b).

    Now, if you elected to appeal and the 1SG and CSM refused to send the paperwork through, then you possibly have some recourse.

    I would suggest the following course of action:

    Consult with your servicing Trial Defense Services (TDS) office about your case. Be honest and truthful about your case and take your copy of the Article 15 and evidence with you (you are entitled to a copy of all evidence and the DA Form 2627). You should have been provided the opportunity to consult with TDS after your initial reading and before the hearing/punishment portion of the Article 15 proceedings. If you were not provided this opportunity to consult with TDS, then definitely seek out TDS and if denied by your command, engage your servicing IG office.

    Remember, the imposing commander is required to consider the evidence in each case separately. Even though your case may have involved other Soldiers, the commander takes into consideration each Soldier’s prior conduct, duty performance, etc. The punishment does not have to be the same and in most cases, it will not be.

    Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components.

  • Pvt D

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    I was recently given a arti­cle 15 i was charged with show­ing for duty late, drunk on duty, assault and drunken dis­or­derly. doing the time i got the assault and drunken dis­or­derly charge there was 2 other SM. 1 was chap­tered out do to other rea­son so he didnt even get pun­ished, the rea­son i was told they didnt pur­sue a case against him is because they wanted him gone. The other SM is now state­side with Lyme dis­ease on and is in the process of get­ting trans­fered to WTU with no pun­ish­ment going against him either. Do i have grounds for a IG com­plaint. When i got the Drunk on duty charge there was 2 other SM who was charged the same day they both got com­pany grade Article 15 they where given 15 day extra duty and 15 restric­tions that was it. But when i went in for my arti­cle 15 read­ing they dropped the assault charge and charged me with every­thing else i tried to appeal but i was told by my 1SG and CSM that they was not going to send the paper­work through. I feel like i was mis­treated and i dont know what to do cause now i just got word that they are try­ing to chap­ter me.

    • Mark Gerecht

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      Based on the information you provided there is a possibility you may have an agrument to move forward with. Your appeal must go forward. If you elect to appeal it must go the next level of command for review. This action is granted under AR 27-10. The best possible option might be to request an open door policy meeting with the BN CDR or the BDE CDR and CSM to inform them of the issue. You might find the following post of use:

      Soldier Decision and Recourse During Article 15’s
      How can I convince my chain of command to drop an Article 15?
      Counseling and Article 15s
      Can I appeal an Article 15 if I initially Decline to Appeal?

    • SGT NICK

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      I hope you elected to appeal at the reading and not later, as in you circled/check that you wanted to appeal to the next higher grade. Your packet has to go to S1 and legal so I don’t know how the CSM can deny it.

      You cannot justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior soldier, I’m sure there were other mitigating circumstances the other soldiers received. Did they assault/disorderly conduct towards others as well? Past offences, character witnesses, remorse, are all admissible during the article 15 hearing. The command does not have to give everyone the exact same punishment for the same offenses. Article 91 violations being the biggest I have seen some max company grade some only summarized suspended sentence depends on the unit and command climate.

      Drunken offences are usually court martial/field grade Article 15’s so consider yourself lucky, the chapter is surprising if this was your first UCMJ.

      When and if you see the BN CDR for the appeal the best advice I tell soldiers is that they take full responsibility for their actions and ask for at least one punishment to be suspended/reversed. That can either be to get your grade back, two months pay suspended or if you are still doing extra duty time already served.

      Hope this helps and please get help via Army Substance Abuse Program if you have an alcohol problem.

  • SGT NICK

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    Two months and they can still come up with an excuse to why they were taking so long either way I do not see you getting any sympathy for popping hot. The Army checks prescription drugs now and that means if you popped hot for Vicodin or some other narcotic and the expiration date was before the UA then you can get punished. But since you did not state that i’m sure it was THC. And if it was weed then they are most likely going to chapter you out. The Army will soon make this mandatory because too many commands have been letting soldiers stay in with multiple UA infractions. Your first O-6 will most likely sign your chapter paperwork and you will be given a general discharge unless you fail another UA then they will court-martial you. Either way its looking bad for soldiers failing the UA.

  • Legal NCO

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    From my experience, Commands move fairly swiftly when imposing UCMJ for a positive urinalysis. Two months seems longer than normal to me for a Soldier to receive at least initiation of UCMJ action. However, if the positive was for a prescription drug, then the unit may be waiting on determination of medical necessity review. Basically, a doctor will review the Soldier’s medical records to determine if the Soldier had a legitimate medical use for the drug they tested positive for. Even if this is the case, two months still seems a little long. You can always sit tight and wait or approach your chain of command and ask what your status is.

    Another thing to consider that under AR 635-200 (Enlisted Separations) paragraph 14-12c(2)b states,
    “All Soldiers against whom charges will not be referred to a court-martial authorized to impose a punitive discharge or against whom separation action will not be initiated under the provisions of chapter 9 (ASAP failure) or section II of this chapter (Civilian Conviction) will be processed for separation under a, b, or c, above, as applicable.

    BLUF: Soldiers who have a positive urinalysis for illegal drugs, this includes misuse of prescription drugs, will be processed for separation. The approval authority does not have to approve the separation, but a separation packet must be completed and sent to the approval authority for their decision to separate or retain the Soldier. (This does not apply to Soldiers who self refer to ASAP before being notified of a UA)

    I hope you find this information useful.

    • Legal NCO

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      In my initial post I did not see that you were also in the MEB process. This adds more in depth issues to the mandatory separation that must be taken into consideration by your command. There are too many variables to cover them all here in this forum. Consult with your local Trial Defense Services Office to inquire about the process and what your rights are.

      • Preston

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        Legal NCO, back again with some great information. Thanks for sharing!

  • jason read

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    and i am in the middle of a medboard just waiting on my findings what do you think will happen with that

    • Mark Gerecht

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      Jason,
      AR 27-10 states
      3–12. Statute of limitations
      Nonjudicial punishment may not be imposed for offenses which were committed more than 2 years before the date of imposition. Computation of this 2-year limitation is in accordance with the UCMJ, Arts. 43(c) and (d). The period of limitations does not run when the Soldier concerned is absent without authority; fleeing from justice; outside the territory where the United States has authority to apprehend; in the custody of civil authorities; or, in the hands of the enemy.

      So the unit actually has up to two years but usually most cases are handled within about 90 days or less.

      With regard to the Med review board I believe that is a totally separate action meaning the board will make their determination based on the medical conditions and evidence they received at the board. I am not an expert in this area but my guess would be that the only way this may be impacted is if you were reduced your compensation from the Army if you are separated may be at the reduced rate and depending on how you are separated you could lose some benefits including education.
      There is a slight possibility that your chain of command may be holding off pushing the Article 15 because you are under a Medboard and may simply allow you to separate without taking action on the incident.
      If I were you I would do my best to be an exceptional Soldier and be absolutely professional as this will do more for you than anything else.
      To fully understand where you stand from a legal position you should probably contact an civilian attorney that has been a previous JAG and get a consultation about what they can and cant do to you. This puts you in the best possible position and will help you understand your options and what benefits could be lost. The charge for this type of consultation is usually very reasonable just make sure you get a good one. There is one our panel of Subject Matter Experts that may be able to assist you.

      Did you find this information useful?
      TOP

  • jason read

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    yes but i was told by my plt leader that they only have 30 days after the offence to read my article 15 is this true

  • jason read

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    i recently had a possitive urinalyas and its been almost 2 months and i have not received a counsling statment or a article 15 how long does my unit have to give me either one of those

    • Mark Gerecht

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      That depends on the action your unit is considering. A counseling statement is not required. If you came up positive typically the paperwork will be forwarded to JAG to ensure everything is in order. Once all the documentation is in order the Commander will determine how he/she would like to proceed for example: Article 15 Company Grade or Field Grade or Courts Martial. Once they have determined their course of action you will be notified. Given the current state and draw down of the military separation from the service is also highly probable. First offenders that are E-4 and below may occasionally get a second chance but this is a rare exception for Soldiers with outstanding performance records. It might be wise for you to seek a legal opinion from a civilian attorney who served in the JAG corps. In my professional experience typically a JAG office will not speak with a Soldier regarding a case until they have been charged or been given their first Article 15 reading. Did you find this information useful?

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