One question that we often receive is…can I get chaptered for a GOMOR?
As in many questions of the law, it really does depend in order to try to mitigate an issuance of a GOMOR to be a career killer. We have to look at all the various steps that a service member has in addressing it. The first one is certainly the most important, but not going to be the last. And that first step is certainly responding to the General Officer of Memorandum of Reprimand in what we call sometimes is rebuttal or response matters. And they really do matter.
Often, what we are trying to do is to have that reprimand ripped up. If it can’t be ripped up, then our next best outcome is to have it locally filed. Now, even with a local file, there can be some lasting implications, some other videos, and some other content can address that. In terms of whether or not it will be an absolute career killer we always remind people that there are a number of additional steps. If that issuance of the GOMOR led to what we call an administrative separation board or a board of inquiry, then you get another bite at that apple. That board has another opportunity to re-look at the underlying conduct that you are alleged to have committed in that GOMOR. They can make a separate determination as to whether or not it legitimately is founded. So please, please do not give up at the issues of the GOMOR and assume it’s going to kill everything.
Oftentimes in our cases, we’re able to unsubstantiated that same underlying misconduct, that form the basis for the reprimand, if that is the case. And, if we’ve been able to unsubstantiated at the board level, there is another step, another process that’s available to you to try to remove that GOMOR from the official record, that is by making an application to the DASEB, that board consists of civilians. Many of whom have a service connection, and they review whether or not there was either an error or an injustice and further whether or not that GOMOR has served its intended consequences. .
Recent changes to the protocols on a DASEB application have caused us to not have to wait a full year, like we used to. Formally the regulation stated that that GOMOR needed to stay in that person’s record for one year before that person could even apply to have it removed, thanks to some recent changes and some recent legislation that yearlong requirement has been removed. So we are filing those DASEB applications almost immediately after the findings of the board have concluded. There are some administrative steps after a board makes its findings where we have to wait for transcripts and wait for things to be compiled from the board, but no longer do we have that yearlong wait.
And so in response to the question: Is a GOMOR a career killer… It really does depend, but we hope and pray that each of you will see that there are many steps for us to try to get that gone from your record. So it doesn’t have to be for you.
Let’s start off by just defining what those terms mean. Being chaptered means that you’re being moved for an administrative separation that is to be kicked out or fired from the military prior to the normal term of that person’s service. A GOMOR or what refers to a general officer memorandum of reprimand. That is where a flag officer, or a general officer administratively reprimands, that person. It’s a written admonishment that you did something wrong, and that person is being reprimanded for it. It also has another paragraph in it sort of what we consider to be sometimes called the magic language, where it says that this general officer or this flag officer is considering the filing of this reprimand into that person’s official military record. If that GOMOR, or if that letter of reprimand is formally filed, then it has the added consequence of potentially causing that person to have to show cause, or to have to be separated or face separation anyway, automatically depending upon that person’s branch of service.
So the short answer is to the question, can I get chaptered for GOMOR is yes, absolutely. In many cases, that is the next logical step for the command to take. Oftentimes commanders may not even realize that depending on the circumstance, depending on the person’s rank, depending upon what career milestones may be coming up for that person, that even if it’s that commanders or that general officer’s intent to only give the reprimand that does not necessarily mean that’s the end of things. There are steps in place known as all acts, which guarantee that if the person receives bad paper, that the highest levels of the command that is, the HR people, human resources are going to automatically cause that person to have to face potential elimination from the service. If they are an officer or enlisted personnel, there’s also different milestones that may trigger one of these. It could trigger a Q and P process where there’s quality management control to determine whether or not that person is fit to continue to serve at that current rank and increasing levels of responsibility. It also gives your command, their own prerogative if they choose.
And depending upon where you are, that happens a lot where that GOMOR will automatically trigger that commander to decide they want to determine by a board or otherwise, if that person should be allowed to remain in the service.
Jocelyn Stewart is a UCMJ court-martial attorney who specializes in defense of allegations of sexual assault for all branches of the military worldwide. Contact the Law Office of Jocelyn C. Stewart at 1-888-252-0927
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