Writing properly formatted, detailed counseling statements for misconduct or unsatisfactory performance is an important skill for all noncommissioned officers to master. It is a record of a subordinate Soldier's misconduct or unsatisfactory performance that can later be used for UCMJ and/or Administrative Separations. A poorly written counseling statement slows down the UCMJ process and, in some cases, can prevent a Soldier from being held responsible for his actions.
When writing a counseling statement, remember that the individual reviewing it has little or no knowledge of the unit or the situation and is relying on the counseling statement for information to help determine the best course of action with the problem Soldier. Therefore, you should write the counseling statement as if a total stranger would be reading it. Be as specific as possible and use the Five Ws (and one H) as a guide for providing enough detail.
- Who was involved?
- What happened?
- Where did it take place?
- When did it take place?
- Why did it happen?
- How did it happen?
A detailed counseling statement will include, at a minimum, the following information: (1) date and time of the incident, (2) location of the incident, (3) rank and name of all people involved, and (4) a detailed description of the incident.
1. DATE AND TIME: It is important that the counseling statement accurately states both the date and time of the incident. Use standard formats such as 0630 hours, 1945 hours, 14 Jan 18, 13 October 2017, etc, when writing the date and time. If you are unable to get the specific date and time, provide a reasonable estimation, such as "in the early morning hours of ______", "in the middle of February", etc.
2. LOCATION: Include both the general area of the offense, i.e. Fort Hood, Killeen, Austin, and the specific location, if known, for example, Patriot Inn, East Gate, Bldg 52004, etc. If the exact location is not known, provide as much information as possible, i.e. "near Austin", "on the outskirts of Baghdad", etc.
3. RANK AND NAME: Clearly identify the people involved in the incident. Do not use vague descriptions such as "an NCO" or "my battle buddy". Use both rank and full names of the people involved, i.e. First Sergeant John Wayne, Private Jessica Alba, etc. Only leave out this information if identities are unknown and cannot be obtained despite a reasonable effort. Always remember to identify yourself with rank and full name.
4. DETAILED DESCRIPTION: Provide a detailed but straight-forward description that clearly states what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. Write it chronologically, from start to finish, using normal language. Refrain from using technical or obscure lingo not easily understood by people outside your MOS. Also, refrain from quoting from the Manual for Courts-Martial. It is more important to explain that "PFC Sullivan struck PFC Doe in the face with a closed fist" than it is to say that he violated Article 128 of the UCMJ.
Failure to Report: On 14 June 2018, you failed to report to PT formation at 0630 hours outside Building 52004 on Fort Hood. I had to send SPC NotAsLazee to your room to get you. When he knocked on your door, you opened the door wearing nothing but your boxer shorts. You told him that you forgot to set your alarm last night and that your room mate did not wake you up. This is the second time you missed formation this week and it will not be tolerated anymore. I am recommending UCMJ action at this time.
Disobeying an Officer: You are being counseled about the incident on 15 April 2018 at Building 52004. CPT Jack A. Sparrow instructed you to clean up the conference room and move all of the MRE boxes to the supply room by 1700. At 1730 the MRE boxes were still in the conference room. When I looked for you, I found you playing cards with PVT CardShark in the day room. This behavior in unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Assaulting an NCO: Today, 15 April 2018, you assaulted SGT Floyd Patterson at the Battalion motor pool on Fort Hood. SGT Patterson asked you to conduct PMCS on the vehicle, to which you replied "Why dont you make me" and then you pushed SGT Patterson against the door of a vehicle. You willfully and intentionally assaulted a noncommissioned officer of the U.S. Army and this conduct will not be tolerated.
Disobeying an NCO: On 15 April 2018, on Fort Hood, SGT Ronald McDonald told you to conduct a police call around the Battalion motor pool before 1300 hours. When SGT McDonald returned from chow at 1400, he noticed there was trash still all over the motor pool. SGT McDonald walked over to you in the smoking area and noticed you were playing with your phone. When he asked why you had not conducted a police call, you replied that it had slipped your mind. This is totally unacceptable.
Dereliction of Duty: Today, 15 April 2018, during the monthly battery weapons cleaning at Building 52004, Fort Hood, you failed to keep accountability of your weapon. Around 1130 hours you went to go use the latrine before going to the DFAC and left your M4 in one of the stalls. Your weapon was later discovered by SSG John Q. Doe who notified the First Sergeant. After a serial number comparison the weapon was identified as an M4 issued to you. If your weapon had fallen into the wrong hands, your neglectful actions could have resulted in the permanent loss of the weapon or worse. This kind of gross neglect will not be tolerated.
Verbal Disrespect toward an NCO: At the 4-5 AMD Motor Pool, on 15 April 2018, your Platoon Sergeant, SFC John Wayne, told you to clean up all the cigarette butts around the smoking area. You replied, "Why don't you do it yourself and stop bothering me". Your combative attitude is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Physical Disrespect toward an NCO: At the 4-5 AMD Motor Pool, on 15 April 2018, your platoon sergeant SFC John Wayne told you to clean up all the cigarette butts around the smoking area. During the conversation you were standing with your arms crossed and constantly rolled you eyes. This kind of disrespect is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Sleeping on Guard Duty: On 15 April 2018, at COP Carver, Iraq, you were ordered to stand watch at guard tower number 1 between 0900 and 2100. As the SOG for the day, I went to check on you at 1100 hours. When I entered the tower I noticed you had taken off your gear and were sleeping on the floor. Your careless behavior and disregard for our safey put all Soldiers on the COP in danger. These actions will not be tolerated.
False Official Statement: Yesterday, 15 April 2018, at COP Carver, Iraq, you reported to 1SG Steve Austin that your squad was green on sensitive items. Later that day, 1SG Austin received a call from the BIAP LNO who said that PFC Jones from your squad left his PVS-14 with him yesterday as he was going on EML. When I confronted you with the issue, you admitted that you had not performed the sensitive items check. You lied to a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer. This behavior will not be tolerated.
Making a Threat: Yesterday, 15 April 2018, you made a threat to SGT Ronald McDonald. While at the 4-5 AMD Motor Pool, Fort Hood, you were given an order by SGT McDonald to report to him after lunch for corrective training. In response, you said "I am sick of this bullshit. You better be watching your back the next time we deploy". Threats are taken very seriously and will not be tolerated in this unit.
MAGIC COUNSELING STATEMENT
Make it a habit to always include the Magic Counseling verbiage in all negative counseling statements. It will make it easier for the command to separate a problem soldier.
I am counseling you for the conduct noted above. If this conduct continues, action may be initiated to separate you from the Army under AR 635-200, Chapters 5, 9, 13, or 14. If you are involuntarily separated, you could receive an Honorable discharge, a General, under honorable conditions, discharge, or an Under Other Than Honorable conditions discharge If you receive a General discharge, you will be disqualified from reenlisting in the service for some period of time and you will be ineligible for some benefits including the Montgomery G.I. bill. If you receive an Under Other Than Honorable conditions discharge, you will be ineligible for reenlistment and for most benefits including payment for accrued leave, transportation of dependents and household goods to home, transitional benefits and the Montgomery G.I. Bill. You may also face difficulty in obtaining civilian employment, as employers have a low regard for the General and Under Other Than Honorable conditions discharges. Although there are agencies to which you may apply to have the character of your discharge changed, it is unlikely that any such applications will be successful.