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
Can a soldier receive an article 15 even if that soldier never received an initial counseling from their first line supervisor?
Yes a counseling statement is not required to recommend UCMJ. Think about it this way. If a Soldier commits an act punishable by UCMJ there is no requirement to counsel the Soldier. The leader can simply request an Article 15.
Hope this Helps