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Can I rewrite a signed counseling statement after my chain of command rejects it?

TOP... I have an issue that I cannot get a book answer on. I heard this was the place to come for answers and experience. So here goes... I wrote a counseling for one of my Soldiers. We had the counseling session and he signed the document. Two weeks later, it was rejected by the chain of command. Can I rewrite the counseling and have the Soldier sign the corrected version?

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When you say the counseling came back I am assuming that someone senior in the chain of command found the counseling to be substandard or felt that certain items were not properly addressed.

You can rewrite the counseling and ask the Soldier to sign, provided the chain of command supports your action. I would run the corrected counseling by the chain of command before you attempt to counsel the Soldier again.

You can rewrite the counseling statement and simply put a notice on the new counseling, “This counseling modifies the counseling you received on _____,” or “This counseling documents the verbal counseling you received on ______.” Once you have completed the new counseling, allow the leader who disapproved the previous version to review the changes prior to sitting down with the Soldier. You should also keep a copy of the previous counseling attached to the new counseling in case there are ever any questions as to why the counseling was rewritten.

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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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  • Charles Barnes


    I got hurt in Iraq in 2010 in the Air Force reserves been on title ten orders ever since and awaiting MEB I have been away from my family for three years and have had deaths in family a mother in the hospital and need to be home the VA is behind over 600 days and I might have to stay another two years awaiting on this can I not be transfered to a base closer to my home during this time I am a reservist I didn’t intend on being full time away from family for three to five years.If I had I would have stayed on active duty.

    • Eck


      Hi Charles,
      Talk to your PEBLO and MSC. Since you are going through the MEB process you should know who these people are already. They will have the information or be able to point you in the right direction on if you can transfer to a different duty station while undergoing MEB.

      However, not knowing your situation, I find it difficult to understand why you would be in the MEB process for three years and think you have another two years to go. Even at it’s worse, the MEB process took from 14 – 24 months. However, this can be delayed for a number of reasons, such as: missing appointments, appeals, etc. If you cannot get an answer from your PEBLO or MSC why your’s is taking so long, ask your command to assist you.

      “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


      Charles, your case sounds unusual. I understand there can be some untimely delays much as ECK stated but this seems highly unusual. As ECK stated seek assistance from these individuals. If you do not receive an appropriate response take it through your chain of command and potentially consider involving the IG or JAG office. Before doing so you need to ensure you have your facts straight otherwise these courses of action could backfire on you. Also keep in mind some Soldiers are keep on Active duty to ensure they receive the medical treatment and therapy they need. If you choose to leave early this could adversely impact your ability to receive care and in some cases it can be almost impossible for you to receive care. So make sure you fully understand the consequences of any decision you make and get advice from the medical and legal professionals

  • Charles


    I am currently under investigation with te c.i.d for something i didnt do. My commander wrote me a couseling statment stating im restricted to post and have to sign in every hr next week she said she sending up chapter papers for paterns of misconduct how can she first give me a counseling statment and then change her mind to chapters papers while under investigation for something i didnt do

    • Eck


      Hi Charles,

      Your commander giving you a counseling statement to remain on post is really not restriction, it is revoking your pass privilege to leave post. I know it appears to be restriction, but for legal purposes, it is not.

      Having you sign in every hour may actually be a form of restriction because it is limiting your movements. If you physically have to sign in during off-duty hours, I would recommend taking the counseling statement to Trial Defense Services (TDS) and ask an attorney there to look at it. They will be able to determine if the order does amount to restriction or not. If on the other hand, you just have to call in every hour, then that is just a form of accountability and does not restrict your movement since you can call in from anywhere on post. There are different rules that apply and an attorney will have to interpret your situation to provide you proper legal advice.

      The counseling to remain on post and the initiation of chapter action have nothing directly to do with each other.

      While I only have limited information from you, I would have to assume that you have other misconduct in the past which has led your commander to decide to initiate separation for a pattern of misconduct. There has to be a “pattern of misconduct” on your part for the commander to have a basis for this type of separation.

      If the chapter action is initiated, you will be notified of the action and provided an opportunity to speak with TDS. Do not waive this right and speak to an attorney. That attorney will advise you accordingly.

      I hope you found this useful.

      “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.”

  • SSG Velazquez


    Good Afternoon Top,

    My name is SSG Velazquez, I sought your advise once and you were very quick in responding and your answer was very helpful. I have a situation that I would like to ask your advise on. I gave my Soldier a monthly performance counseling the other day. The counseling was very in depth and covered areas such as duty, military bearing, pt, professional growth and other areas. This SPC just came back from a 40 day leave and I only had 4 days out of the month with him. In those 4 days we received an negative ICE comment about my Soldier which I thought was inaccurate and exaggerated but non the less it made my Soldier look horrible, along with me and my Supervisor saying that the SPC was bad mouthing our MSG. That comment was exaggerated and it stretched the truth, (its complicated) however my MSG was furious. Because of this comment my SPC who was scheduled to go to the Promotion board was denied the opportunity to go. I counseled my Soldier and told him the reason why he was not going to the Promotion board anymore was because of that comment. We were never given the chance to explain what happened or to defend our selves against that comment, we were just found guilty until proven innocent. In any case, I told the truth on my counseling and my Soldier of course agreed to what was discussed but wrote a long message speaking about the issue on the remarks. In my opinion this is the way a counseling session should work, I am working to mentor my Soldier and this is a written document of what was discussed. The counseling statement was sent up to my MSG who called me back furious and said that everything on there was not the facts and that I need to rewrite this counseling? It seemed as if she wanted me to rewrite the counseling because what I wrote did not match what the ICE comment said.

    My question is, (after this essay), is it legal for your Supervisor to order you to rewrite your performance counseling statement that you did with your Soldier just because they do not agree with what was stated? I thought a counseling between me and my Soldier is just that, a counseling between me and my Soldier. It is my assessment of my Soldiers performance during that particular month. Please advise.

    Thank you.
    Very Respectfully,
    SSG Velazquez

    • Mark Gerecht


      SSG Velazques,

      You are between a rock and a hard place. It appears the MSG has taken the comments personally and may be emotionally attached to the situation. You now have to decide how to proceed and the options are not without challenge.

      The ICE Comments are considered Hearsay. Meaning they cannot be proven. Therefore unless someone comes forward and specifically states they were informed of the comments by the Soldier the command can only use these comments in a manner to try and ascertain the facts of what happened. Meaning conduct an informal investigation, see if there is any truth to the matter, and why the situation may have occurred. They may find out during the course of this action that Soldier is a victim in this. While rare it does happen. The purpose of the ICE program is to improve services and communication not grind an axe.

      You could consider-

      1. Having a discussion with the MSG and asking her to evaluate the facts of the matter from an unemotional stand point. Ask her if someone made an ICE Comment on her that resulted in her being treated the same way she is treating the Soldier would she be good with a board removal and forcing a counseling to be rewritten? Odds are she would not appreciate the Commander and 1SG treating her that way.

      2. You could consider requesting to see the commander on open door policy to explain the issue and ask for intervention and why you believe the Soldier was mistreated. The Soldier probably has a IG case with regard to being removed from the board for an unproven accusation.

      3. If the Soldier goes to the commander and the commander upholds the position the MSG. The Soldier can then initiate an Article 138 complaint against the Commander.

      Can the MSG order you to give a counseling to the Soldier. Yes, but she cannot control what you write. She cannot control how the Soldier responses. If the Soldier rebut the Counseling explains they are being abused or mistreated by the MSG the situation only gets worse for the MSG. If she desires specific wording then she should conduct the Counseling. By making you write the counseling in her words she is attempting to build a case that you support her actions. and therefore she can justify additional actions against the Soldier.

      So with all of this in mind I would caution you as this could become ugly quick. If she is emotional about a comment she most likely will become emotional about a refusal to write a counseling statement. However you choose to proceed you must be absolutely professional, factual, and unemotional. Make sure another leader is present when you speak with the MSG. This is not an unusual event. But it is a difficult position for the senior leader because they must now find a way to back down without losing credibility. The goal is to give them a solution that let’s them back down in professional way.

      This might not be the end of the issue as the MSG may still be stinging from the incident. The Soldier needs to lay low and be high speed. The best method is to solve the problem at the lowest possible level. If that does not work and you take it to the 1SG/ Commander on a values/ehtical based leadership issue you may find they support you but this will most likely hurt your relationship with the MSG.

      It’s a tough call to make but that’s why you get paid the big bucks!

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