Responding to Letters of Reprimand in the Military

Copy-of-Copy-of-Kids-are-expensive-paul-blog-post-YouTube-Livestream-Video-1-300x169What Is a Military Letter of Reprimand?

A military letter of reprimand (LOR) is an administrative censure given to a servicemember for alleged failure to comply with military rules or regulations. A letter of reprimand is a serious matter, and servicemembers subject to receiving one should carefully consider their options. A letter of reprimand is important because this letter might stay in a servicemember’s file and impact the ability of that servicemember to be promoted, selected for new training and assignments, or lead to administrative discharge in some circumstances.  Any servicemember that is committed to the military as a career could find an LOR in their record to be seriously problematic.

Letters of reprimand are often issued by General Officers and may sometimes be referred to by the acronym ‘GOMOR’ for General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand.

Service Regulations

In the Army, letters of reprimand are governed by Army Regulation 600-37. In the Air Force, letters of reprimand are governed by AFI 36-2907. The Navy and Marine Corps use nonpunitive letters of concern and letters of instruction. More information regarding these may be found in the Rules for Courts Martial (R.C.M. 306) and JAGMAN (Chapter 1).

The Army GOMOR Process

For this article, I will use the Army structure to describe the LOR process. The same principles generally apply across each branch of service, even though the details of how each service implements them does vary. Therefore, a savvy servicemember dealing with a letter of reprimand should carefully read the letter, review the service regulation that governs the letter, and consult with an experienced military law attorney.

According to AR 600-37, a letter of reprimand may be filed locally or filed in the performance portion of the soldier’s permanent Army Military Human Resource Record. If the reprimand is filed locally, it will remain for up to three years or until the soldier is reassigned to a new command, whichever occurs sooner.

Upon receiving an LOR, the first step is for the soldier to carefully read the letter. The letter will state the deadline for the soldier to respond, which is often 7-10 days from receipt. The soldier’s response is critical, because the Commander that issued the letter can still decide at this point not to file the letter or place the letter in the local file.

The soldier’s statement should address the underlying facts and argue for a particular filing determination. If the letter is permanently filed, the soldier’s statement will be included.

LOR Response Strategies

The primary strategies for a soldier’s response are to deny the allegations, explain in a different way what happened, or mitigate the concerns in the LOR.

  • Deny the allegations. Denying the allegations shows that the allegations are factually not true. This may include witness statements and other documentary proof such as emails, text messages, photographs, etc.
  • Explain in a different way what happened. Here the soldier is not admitting to the conduct as characterized, but also not denying there is any validity to what occurred. This may include supporting evidence as well.
  • Mitigate concerns in the LOR. This entails the soldier admitting to having violated a rule, regulation, or order, apologizing for the violation, and asking for a second chance. It would be wise for the soldier to include acceptance of resulting punishment and indicate that the soldier has already begun remedial measures to address the issue.

In all those strategies, the soldier should consider including favorable information, such as copies of good evaluation ratings, sworn letters attesting to the character and performance of the soldier, and awards previously received.

When drafting a response to an LOR, the soldier should write the statement in memorandum format. It would be wise to work with a team to edit and refine the statement prior to submitting.

After an LOR has been filed-Appeal Options

There is no formal process to seek removal of an LOR from the local file. However, a soldier may request removal by the Commander that issued it with an appeal in memorandum format through the chain of command.

If an LOR has been permanently filed, a soldier may seek removal to the restricted portion of the OMPF through the procedures described in AR 600-37. Unfortunately, for a soldier considering an appeal, this is not easy to accomplish. Once an LOR has been permanently filed, the Army presumes it is administratively correct. The soldier is required to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the allegations are untrue or unjust thereby warranting removal.


If you are a servicemember dealing with a letter of reprimand, I encourage you to leverage the information provided in this article and reach out to a Nashville military law attorney to explore your best strategy today. Our team of military law attorneys at Cole Law Group are ready to assist. Contact us at 615-490-6020.

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