Example Army Disrespect Counseling

If you’re looking for information about an Army Disrespect Counseling, you are in the right place.  As a leader of Soldiers, there’s a good chance that at some point in your military career you will have to sit down with a subordinate and counsel them for disrespecting a superior NCO or an Officer.  A few examples of disrespect might include:

  • A Soldier who rolls their eyes at a NCO or Officer
  • A Soldier who shouts at a NCO or Officer
  • A Soldier who says something degrading or inappropriate to a superior
  • A Soldier who walks away from a superior when they are talking to them

While these things don’t happen very often, they do happen from time to time.  I had to do a few of these counselings myself during my 15 year career.  Therefore, I’d like to share a few helpful tips to conduct a successful Army Disrespect Counseling session.

  1.  Address the Issue Immediately – Meet with the Soldier right after the instance (no more than 5-10 minutes, and preferably the moment it happens) and conduct a verbal counseling.  Tell them what they did wrong, tell them that type of behavior is not acceptable, and tell them that you will sit down with them as soon as you type up the written counseling statement.  Make sure you do a written counseling in addition to the verbal counseling.
  2. Put Everything in Writing on a DA Form 4856 – Collect the facts, write down exactly what happened, address which UCMJ Rule Article was violated and prepare the written counseling statement.  Make sure it is facts based and do not let your emotion get your best of you.   Let a trusted peer or superior review the counseling statement before you present it to the Soldier.
  3. Use the Magic Bullet Statement – Make sure that you add the magic bullet statement to your counseling statement.  This lets your Soldier know that you are serious.
  4. Have a Witness – When you conduct the Army Disrespect Counseling make sure you have a witness with you so you don’t have any false allegations made against you.
  5. Wait Until You Calm Down – Try to wait until your emotions have calmed down before you conduct the formal counseling; you don’t want your emotions to get the best of you.  At a minimum, wait a few minutes.
  6. Address What Went Wrong, What the Standard is, And What Your Recommended Punishment Will Be – During the formal counseling session, make sure the individual knows what they did wrong, what the standard is, and what punishment you will recommend.  If you are recommending an Article 15 or UCMJ Punishment, you might want to sit down with the Commander for a moment or two (ahead of time) to get their leadership input and guidance.  That way you are both on the same sheet of music.

These are my best tips for conducting an Army Disrespect Counseling.

On the counseling statement itself you want to include a summary of what happened, explain what UCMJ Article was violated, what punishment you will give/recommend, what the plan of action is, and what you will do as a leader to work with the Soldier.

Here is an example Army Disrespect Counseling

“On 3 April 2010, you (PFC Alexander) disrespected 1SG Allen.  When the 1SG was talking to you about being late for formation, you got in his face and started yelling at him.  When he asked you to stop yelling, you pushed a few things off his desk and told him to “screw off.”

Disrespecting a Non Commissioned Officer is a direct violation of Article 91 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  As your Platoon Sergeant, I cannot condone this type of behavior in our unit.  Therefore, I am recommending you be reduced from E3 to E2 via Article 15.  Additionally, I am recommending you receive 14 days restriction and extra duty.

You will report to the Company Commander’s office today at 1700 hours for your Article 15 proceedings.”

Final Thoughts

If you ever have to administer an Army Disrespect Counseling, make sure you follow the advice in this article.  At a minimum, educate yourself about your rights, and the Soldier’s rights.  Deal with the issue quickly, put everything in writing, and wait until your emotions calm down before you administer the counseling.  Good luck!

If you have faced this situation and would like to share any other tips that helped, you can do so in the comment area below. Also, if you have any questions about disrespect counseling, you can ask them and we will attempt to provide an answer. Thank you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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21 thoughts on “Example Army Disrespect Counseling”

  1. My question has to do with soldiers of the same ranks like, sergeant and another sergeant from different classes. How can a sergeant from a higher class or batch deal with a subordinate sergeant from another class with the same rank because of disrespectful conduct?

  2. I can’t imagine having to deal with a disrespectful Soldier, especially to one of us Sgts or NCOs. But I am sure that this goes on on a daily basis so it is extremely important to know how to deal with it. It was very interesting to read about how to perform Army Disrespect Counseling, which seems to be an effective way of going about addressing the issue. I think you are right about needing a witness present, because things can get out of hand after the meeting if one is not present. The “he said, she saids” could begin, which is very unwanted!

    My husband had to address a disrespect issue once while he was serving overseas. He made the Soldier take a plastic spoon and clean out oil cans with it – and buddy, they had to be SPOTLESS before he could leave for the day. Needless to say, this was a near impossible task. He laughs about it to this day (ha!)

    1. In today’s Army, this is becoming a common problem. Soldiers are often “passed” through Basic Training, even if they shouldn’t be a Soldier. I call it the “No Soldier Left Behind Program” and it troubles the Army. Just ask any small unit leader and they will agree. I never tolerated disrespect and I wouldn’t let my subordinate leaders tolerate it either. Respect works both ways, but Soldiers need to respect their superior NCOs and Officers, even if they don’t like them or agree with their leadership style. In some units, the leaders are scared of the junior Soldiers. I personally think there is something wrong with that picture.

  3. Valeria Westgard

    Tonight at a restaurant I saw a soldier drop his hat on the floor by his table. I pointed it out to him, then he kicked it under his chair instead of picking it up.I told him my father had died in service at the age of 36.( He was in the army). In all my years as a military brat, I never saw anyone be disrespectful to his own uniform like that. My favorite cousin died eight days before he was scheduled to come home from Vietnam, of course his name is on the Wall, Johnny Simpson. When that soldier did that I felt like he was walking on both their graves.My husband, an Air Force Veteran, also of the Vietnam era, was with me, and I saw a flash of anger in his eyes when that soldier did that.that I rarely see.Surely, today, codes of conduct have not changed that much have they? I love the military and my first job as a nurse was at a VA hospital and today I have the privilege of working with many of the "Greatest Generation" who fought in WWII.

    1. Valerie,

      I’m sorry you had to see that. Personally, I believe there are good and bad soldiers in every generation.

      While I do believe that the standards have slacked a lot in the Army in recent years, I also believe that 98% or more of all Soldiers would never do something like that. Hopefully, this was a one time event and won’t happen again.

      It sounds like you come from a wonderful military family. Thanks for your service. And please tell your husband the same thing.

      All the best.


    2. Valeria Westgard

      Hello Sir,
      I appreciate your reply.I agree and will continue to support our great men and woman of the service.

    3. Candace Ginestar

      Thank you for your family’s service, and for yours as a nurse working for the VA. We need all the help we can get with getting good people to stay with the VA!

      I agree with Chuck, that disrespect like this is very rare. I know it happens, I have seen it a few times myself, and it always disappoints me. It also disappoints me when they are insubordinate when you correct them.

  4. This is really good advice for how to handle Army Disrespect Counseling. If you see this behavior it’s important to jump right on it and deal with it immediately. Putting everything down in writing is a good practice and will help avoid any confusion further down the road. It’s also good to think about this situation ahead of time so that you have a course of action should you encounter it. If you handle this issue efficiently and professionally, hopefully it won’t re-ocur

    1. Good points, CB.

      You should definitely have a game plan when dealing with a disrespect counseling. You need some type of “corrective action” to fix the behavior and deal with what happened. You have many choices, such as negative counseling, extra duty, reduction in rank, bar to reenlistment, etc. Just make sure the punishment fits the crime and that the punishment “sinks home” with the Soldier involved.

      Thanks for the comment.


  5. Wikipedia says … a rational decision is one that is not just reasoned, but is also optimal for achieving a goal or solving a problem.

    We know that a decision or a piece of writing by a Company Commander that has too much emotion and any amount of guestimation involved is a bad decision and a bad piece of writing. When subordinates question us or disrespect the leadership via writing, talk, looks, and other actions, it is a natural human instinct to feel adrenaline and fast heart beat which can made the leaders make terrible decisions immediately. Calm, rational reaction is important.

    1. Being calm and rational is very important when you are doing an Army disrespect counseling. The last thing you want to do is put something in writing that comes back and bites you in the butt. Sometimes it’s smart to wait a few minutes until you calm down first, and then deal with the issue.


  6. Neil O'Donnell

    I was not aware of Army Disrespect Counseling, but I see its value. As with any disciplinary action for dealing with disrespectful subordinates, action must be immediate. Yes, I cool down period is definitely a good idea. However, letting a subordinate get away with disrespectful behavior can have a Domino Effect throughout the unit. Besides, addressing disrespect right away may help turn a bad apple into a strong, disciplined soldier in time.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Neil. I’ve had to do a few disrespect counselings in my career. It didn’t happen very often, but when it did I took the bull by the horns and addressed the issue immediately. I always put everything in writing and sometimes I did more than a counseling (such as UCMJ, extra duty, reduction in rank, etc.). It was never fun to do, but it comes with your job as being an Army leader.


  7. The only time I ever ran into a problem of disrespect was when I saw it outside of my own unit. I don’t think there was one incident in my unit where someone blatantly disrespected a higher ranking NCO or officer. Personally I’m a believer in a good counseling session like the one you’ve laid out and a decently harsh penalty. There should be nothing involving taking away a soldier’s money. I always thought that was cruel. Some extra duty for a week or so though is another story.

    1. I’ve learned that “taking away a Soldier’s money” is often the most effective way to correct bad behavior. Some Soldiers don’t respond to butt chewings, extra duty or demotions, but when you hit their pocket book, you have their undivided attention. By no means should this method be abused, but sometimes it’s the best way to correct poor performance.

      1. Candace Ginestar

        We have had to take pay before, and it hit them the hardest. They didn’t think we were serious until that happened. I am the first to fight for Soldiers and their pay – especially if there’s a mistake. But I also know that it is so important that sometimes it is the only way to correct a problem.

  8. Every time I’ve had to address disrespect, I’ve always pointed out to the Soldier that if he were the one with the rank, he would want and expect respect from his subordinates. I also explain that respect is a two-way street, and that if you expect it, you should give it. I’m sure with some it went in one ear and out the other, but hopefully it makes at least some of them stop and think.

    1. You’ve got that right. Most people will treat their boss or peers a certain way, but if the roles were reversed, they would be upset if their subordinates’ treated them that way. My simple advice is to follow the Golden Rule and treat others the way you want to be treated.

  9. Thanks for the comment, Michelle. Unfortunately, disrespect does happen from time to time in the Army. Most Soldiers do the right thing, but there’s always few bad apples in every bunch. The best leaders always deal with the issue promptly, put everything in writing, and keep it from happening again. You’re right though, most folks do respect their superiors.


  10. This is very insightful. Some of my best friends are in the Army and I know how serious they are about respecting their superiors. I didn’t know that Army Disrespect Counseling even existed- but it sounds like an effective way to address issues with soliders regarding inappropriate behavior.

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