Rebuttals to Letters of Reprimand

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A letter of reprimand is an administrative measure that the command can take which does not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to issue an administrative reprimand, there only has to be proof by a preponderance of the evidence, or 51 percent.


Because a letter of reprimand does not give the command a direct way to deprive rank or money, there are limited rights to fight them. The servicemember is given a time-sensitive opportunity to respond to the reprimand in the form of a written rebuttal.

A rebuttal will address whether or not the reprimand should be given and also how the reprimand should be filed, in the person’s local file (which will have no future impact on the member) or in the person’s official military file (which can have a lasting impact on the member).

The written rebuttal can provide additional evidence of sworn statements or affidavits from other witnesses to directly attack the substance of the alleged misconduct that forms the basis of the reprimand. The written rebuttal can also provide other documentation such as character letters of service to help convince the command authority that the misconduct was a limited occurrence and to help convince the issuing commander to only file the reprimand locally. There are also instances when the issuing commander is not authorized to file a reprimand in the official personnel file.

Ensuring that zealous representation is obtained at every step is vital in this time of drawdown. An officially filed letter of reprimand is often the military’s first effort toward separation from the service. Even if the command does not initiate separation, an officially filed letter of reprimand will automatically trigger a mandatory administrative separation board. The rebuttal to the reprimand is the first step in the fight to preserve a military career and retirement.

How Do I Write a Letter of Reprimand Rebuttal?

When putting your thoughts together about how to rebut a letter of reprimand, it’s important that you are speaking in the first person. You are speaking directly to the general officer who is issuing this letter of reprimand. But what’s also important is that as you are framing your argument you make sure that you’re being understood in a way that

  1. Conveys your professionalism.
  2. Conveys the message that it is that you’re trying to send.

As you are making statements of fact, it’s important to be weaving into your argument and weaving into your memorandum that specific documentation that’s going to back up what it is that you’re saying. Otherwise it’s going to simply come across as very self-serving and it’s not going to be something that’s going to be taken into consideration.

Finally, if you are also going to be addressing the underlying misconduct it’s very important that when you’re addressing that specific area of your rebuttal that you are annotating and documenting anything that you yourself have done to correct this error or to rehabilitate yourself. Because fundamentally that’s what the issuer of the reprimand wants to know, is that this inquiry, this investigation, and finally the reprimand has been sufficient to address the issue so that you can come back from it and continue to serve.

For questions on GOMOR and letter of reprimand rebuttals, contact the Law Office of Jocelyn C. Stewart at 253-317-8494

How Do I Respond to a Letter of Reprimand?

When responding to a letter of reprimand, you’ll be notified in writing that you have approximately seven to ten days to respond in writing to the allegation. It’s important that there are generally two different types of responses.

In the first case you are actually contesting the underlying allegation of misconduct. You’re trying to put together evidence on your own to indicate why it is that you did not commit the apparent misconduct.

In the second case you’re able to actually say, “I can acknowledge I did this specific area of misconduct; however, I would like for you to note these mitigating factors and also consider the rest of my career before you make a determination about a permanent negative mark on my record.”

For questions on GOMOR and letter of reprimand rebuttals, contact the Law Office of Jocelyn C. Stewart at 253-317-8494