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How do you respond to a GOMOR?

First, a copy of the GOMOR (sometimes “GOMAR”) is presented to the Soldier along with a packet of evidence/information that the GOMOR is based on. The Soldier is given a chance to respond in writing through a “rebuttal.” Typically, this time is limited to only 7 calendar days from the date of service of the reprimand. Occasionally the issuing General Officer (GO) will allow a face-to-face open-door session, but most GOs do not. If open-door request is denied, the Soldier cannot demand one because there is no requirement to grant one. There is no board or other opportunity to advocate in person. The written rebuttal packet is reviewed by the Soldier’s chain of command, which makes recommendation, then staffed through the legal office. Finally, everything is presented to the GO for action. There is an art to responding to a GOMOR, and these rebuttal packets can have long lasting implications to strategy at a subsequent administrative separation board. For more information on how to respond, please review this post.

What happens with a GOMAR?

When an Army General Officer (GO) want to formally reprimand someone, the GO will issue a memorandum of reprimand (“GOMOR” or sometimes “GOMAR”). The GO’s legal office prepares the reprimand based on a file of evidence related to the misconduct. The reprimand is then given to the Soldier, who has a chance to file a rebuttal.  What the Soldier puts in that rebuttal is critical because it is the Soldier’s only opportunity to communicate the other side of the story, as there is no right to a board or hearing.  The rebuttal is reviewed by the legal office and the GO, who decides what the “filing determination” will be. For information on how to respond to a GOMOR, please review this post with informational video. The GOMOR/GOMAR can be filed permanently in the Soldier’s file at HRC, or locally, or even rescinded completely (torn up).

How do you fight a military separation?

How you fight involuntary separation depends on many factors.  Are you enlisted or an officer?  Are being separated for misconduct?  How long have you been in? The answer to these questions will determine what process occurs. You may have the opportunity to present your case to a board, but sometimes you are limited to a written submission. For more information please review this post. The consequences of a military separation are extremely significant, and we highly recommend that you schedule a consultation if you have been notified that you may possibly be separated involuntarily.

How do you rebuttal a GOMAR?

If you are presented with a GOMOR (sometimes “GOMAR”) you have a small window of time to respond. You or your attorney will need to review the packet of evidence/information that the GOMOR is based on. Your opportunity to respond is done in writing through a “rebuttal”, also known as response matters. There is no board or other opportunity to present a face-to-face request for mercy. The Rebuttal is critical, and we recommend that you seek the advice of qualified legal counsel. Unfortunately, TDS generally does not provide counsel to assist with a GOMOR. On occasion base legal offices will review something (for grammar and typos) that the member writes, but these offices set low priority and will not write the response for the member. Base legal offices also will not solicit, collect, or edit memoranda of support or character letters to accompany rebuttal matters. For more on how to rebuttal a GOMOR, please see this post.

What Happens in the Military Investigation Process?

Military investigations are most often conducted by individual officers who are not professional investigators. They are initiated in response to some complaint or concern brought to the attention of a commander. That commander becomes a “appointing authority” by ordering an investigation. The investigating officer (“IO”) will meet with a legal advisor and review a guide on what to do, but otherwise likely has no training or knowledge on how to conduct the investigation. This raises significant concerns about their ability to properly gather facts and arrive at a correct set of findings. The investigator will gather documents and interview people before preparing a report, which then goes through a legal review before being returned to the commander.  That commander then serves as the “approving authority” and will sign off on the findings for that investigation.  Because of this non-expert process, we encourage individuals under investigation to seek capable legal representation when they are the target of a complaint that triggers a command investigation.

Can the Military Look at My Bank Statements?

Financial information is some of the most carefully protected personal information in America… but that doesn’t mean no one can ever see it.  For example, when a crime is being investigated, law enforcement can gain access to your bank records. So, what about when it’s a military command investigation?  Technically, a command investigation into alleged military misconduct could gain access to a bank account, but the Investigating Officer or “IO” would still need to go through the same judicial process as required for a law enforcement investigation: obtaining a valid warrant from a court.  In reality, the lack of expertise and systems supporting command investigations makes this highly unlikely.  Commanders cannot, on their own, access your financial records under normal circumstances.

What happens if I get a GOMAR?

A general officer memorandum of reprimand (GOMOR) which is often colloquially referred to as a “GOMAR”) is a reprimand from a General. When a Soldier receives this form of adverse action, they will receive a short suspense to provide a response. If they do not respond, the reprimand will be filed in their official record. Filing in the official record effectively means that Soldier’s career is over unless additional action is taken. There are ways to later remove the GOMAR from the official record, but those processes are time-consuming and while the reprimand remains in the record, there are other administrative consequences that are sure to follow. Among those processes includes administrative separation (firing), potential removal for failing to progress such as through the QMP. If the Soldier is able to make it to retirement, then the derogatory filing of this reprimand will trigger what is called a grade determination. A grade determination can administratively reduce the member to the grade at which they last served honorably, which can be more than one grade reduction. Understanding how to best guard against the permanent filing is critical. For more information, please review this post.

What happens when you get a GOMOR?

A general officer memorandum of reprimand (GOMOR or sometimes “GOMAR”) is an official written reprimand from a General Officer (GO). Soldiers are flagged with an AA code (Adverse Action) while the GOMOR is being processed. The flag should be lifted after the filing determination. Where the GOMOR is filed is very important. A “local” filing determination means the GOMOR is essentially a written counselling that is destroyed when Soldier makes the next PCS move or two years pass. If the GOMOR is “permanently” filed at HRC, it can lead to other adverse actions, like an administrative separation (“Chapter”) process, separation through the QMP process, and it will trigger a grade determination. For more information about grade determinations, please review this post.

What does a GOMOR do?

A general officer memorandum of reprimand (GOMOR or sometimes called “GOMAR”) is an official written reprimand from a General Officer (GO). It is not a legal (UCMJ) punitive action, but it can have serious consequences that very much can feel and act like punishment. Any GO can give any Soldier a GOMOR, regardless of where that Soldier is assigned and who the general officer is. It is possible to get more than one GOMOR for the same thing if two different GOs want to reprimand the Soldier. What really matters is where the GOMOR is filed. A “local” filing determination means the GOMOR is just a written counselling, but if the GOMOR is “permanently” filed at HRC, it can lead to other adverse actions, like administrative separation (“Chapter”) or separation through the QMP process. A GOMOR in the official file will also trigger a grade determination, which can administratively reduce any service member (enlisted or officer) for purposes of retirement and retirement pay.

What are the consequences of a GOMOR?

A General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (“GOMOR” or sometimes “GOMAR”) can have drastic consequences depending on whether or not it is rescinded, and of not rescinded (torn up) where it is filed by the issuing General Officer. A “local” filing determination means the GOMOR is essentially a written counselling, and nothing more. However, if the GOMOR is “permanently” filed, it goes in the Soldiers’ Army Military Human Resources Record (AMHRR, formerly known as the “OMPF”). This official filing can trigger other actions, like initiation of an administrative separation (“Chapter”) process or the QMP process. If the member is permitted to serve until retirement, the derogatory information of a GOMOR in an official file will trigger a grade determination, which can cost the member hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of their retirement.

What happens after an OSI investigation?

Once the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI, or just “OSI”) feels they have enough evidence to establish probable cause, they will forward their investigation to the legal office for review. Probable cause is an exceptionally low standard, often seen as little as 15% proof. Normally a finding of probable cause will be the base legal office for the unit of the accused Airman. An attorney in that legal office, usually a judge advocate called the “Chief of Military Justice,” will review the case and give recommendations to the Wing or Squadron commander (depending on how serious the matter is). After this step, the command will decide what action, if any, to take against the Airman.

What happens after a CID investigation?

Once CID feels it has enough to establish the someone committed a crime, they will present that evidence to a judge advocate, usually the unit Military Justice Advisor (MJA).  The MJA will issue a legal opinion called an “opine” as to whether there is probable cause – meaning evidence reasonably shows the Soldier committed the crime.  If there is probable cause, the case will then move to the “disposition” phase, meaning the command will consider possible adverse action against the Soldier, who has now been “titled” as the “Subject” of the CID case.

Why do I have to start clearing right after being told I might get administratively separated? Don’t I get a board?

The process of administrative separation, especially for alleged misconduct, has a tendency to cause panic. Even from that initial verbal or written counseling that the service member is heading for this military employment firing action, it can elevate anxiety. That is completely understandable. However, in most cases, there is nothing inappropriate about what the command is doing. The process can take some time, and even if you are entitled to an administrative separation board to determine if you should be fired, in most scenarios you have an obligation to begin the process of clearing. For more detailed information about the propriety of pre-clearing and to help you learn more about whether what the command is asking of you is appropriate, please review the information contained in this post.

I don’t trust my command and I want them go through my lawyer. Can I make them do that?

In many instances, there are specific topics that your chain of command cannot discuss with you. The primary example is if members of your chain of command want to question you about your alleged misconduct. This requires you to politely decline and to direct the chain of command to your legal representative.

However, there are plenty of times when you are required to or should communicate with you chain of command. This is a nuanced field. For more detailed information including examples of when you may refer your command to your lawyer and when you should not, please review this informative blogpost.

How serious is an LOR?

A Letter of Reprimand or LOR is the most severe form of an administrative disciplinary action the command can pursue. The following are in order of severity from the least severe to the most serious: Record of Individual Counseling (RIC), Letter of Counseling (LOC), Letter of Admonishment (LOA), and Letter of Reprimand (LOR).

The LOR itself is administrative in nature and is intended to be used to correct substandard behavior, though it can often feel like punishment. Given the possible harmful second and third order effects of receiving an LOR on one’s career, it should not be taken lightly. With an LOR, you have a right to respond. Service members wishing to consider responses that will be most helpful should contact experienced counsel.

What is an LOR?

An LOR is a Letter of Reprimand. LORs are quality force management tools used by supervisors, superiors, and commanders to improve and correct subordinates’ behavior to address perceived unsatisfactory performance, departure from military bearing or professionalism, misconduct either on duty or off duty, etc. These tools are supposed to be used to correct behavior rather than to punish behavior.

An LOR is more severe than a Record of Individual Counseling (RIC), Letter of Counseling (LOC), or Letter of Admonishment (LOA). Being given any of these administrative disciplinary actions is not any evidence of guilt of any offense.

The seriousness of the alleged departure from standards, in addition to the member’s previous disciplinary record, should be taken into consideration when determining what type of action the command or supervisors should take. The standard of proof for these adverse actions by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it is more likely than not that the alleged misconduct occurred. This preponderance standard is often referred to as 51% proof.

Learn more about how serious an LOR is and how it can impact your career.