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How do I correct a Soldier who has poor hygiene?

I just wanted to know if there is anyone out there who has counseled a Soldier about their hygiene? I've been pulled aside by other section leaders about a Soldier's hygiene and how it is affecting others.

When discussing hygiene you need to realize that this is a sensitive, personal issue. Make sure your tone and choice of words do not attack or degrade the Soldier. Consider explaining the impact that their behavior has on the rest of the teams (it negatively affects their morale, they could get sick, etc). Find out what the Soldier has to say about this issue.

A counseling statement could include:

“I am personally/professionally concerned about your level of personal hygiene. Personal hygiene can affect the health, morale, and safety of yourself and those around you. While I understand this may be a sensitive subject, it is also a matter of unit concern as it has the potential to affect other members of the unit. You need to improve your level of personal hygiene.”

Your plan of action should include specific tasks for the Soldier to perform. Finish with the magic counseling text. I recommend speaking with your chain of command regarding this issue.

posted on 08/05/2011 under Q&A
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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..

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  • SGT D

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    As a new NCO, I am dealing with this issue for the first time. I found this very helpful. Thank you.

    • Mark Gerecht

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      SGT D,
      Glad it helped! As a young SSG I too had the same issue. After careful analysis and discussion the issue was fixed but as leaders we have to look out for the health and welfare of our Soldiers and those around them. For weekly questions check us out on FACEBOOK.
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  • Marcelino Benitez

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    Also as a good leader use the FM 21-10 in which discuss Field Hygiene and Sanitation. This way the Soldier will understand why is so important to maintain good hygiene.

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