Magic Bullet Statement for Army DA Form 4856

What is the DA Form 4856 Magic Bullet Statement?  Simply put, it is a “legal statement” that you include on the official Army Counseling Form when you counsel a subordinate.   This statement is typically used for “negative” event-oriented counseling. Example events might include insubordination, driving under the influence, failure to report, public intoxication, or something similar.

The purpose of the Magic Bullet Statement is to (1) let your Soldier know that you are serious and you mean business and (2) let your Soldier know what will/could happen if this type of negative behavior continues.

From my personal experience in the military I can tell you that the DA Form 4856 Magic Bullet Statement works wonders.  When you include it on the negative counseling statement, you really get the Soldier’s attention.  In most cases, it helps correct the poor behavior immediately. After all, who wants to be kicked out of the military?  Who wants an Article 15 or Court-martial?  Most Soldiers don’t want these things to happen to them.

On the other hand, when it does not work for you, it makes recommending UCMJ or Administrative Actions much easier.  Putting things in writing, combined with the Magic Bullet Statement creates a paper trail that covers your know what when you make recommendations to your chain of command.  When you can show your commander two, three, four or five negative counseling statements for someone, they will listen to you!

If you supervise Soldiers, I HIGHLY recommend you include the DA 4856 Magic Bullet Statement on every single “negative” counseling that you do.  This helps you “cover your butt” and do your job effectively.  Here are two basic versions of the Magic Bullet Statement:

“I am counseling you for the conduct noted above. Be advised that continued conduct of this nature may result in initiation of a bar to reenlistment, administrative action to include your separation from the service, and/or punitive action (i.e. UCMJ action). If this conduct continues, action may be initiated to involuntarily separate you from the service under AR 635-200, Chapter 5, 11, 13 or 14. If you are involuntarily separated, you could receive an Honorable, General Under Honorable Conditions, Other Than Honorable, or Uncharacteristic Discharge. An Honorable Discharge may be awarded under Chapter 5, 13 and 14. An Uncharacteristic Discharge may be awarded under Chapter 11. A General Under Honorable Conditions Discharge may be awarded under Chapter 5, 13 and 14. An Other Than Honorable Discharge may be awarded under Chapter 14. If you receive an Honorable Discharge, you will be qualified for most benefits resulting from your military service. If you receive a General Under Honorable Conditions Discharge or an Uncharacteristic Discharge, you will be disqualified from reenlisting in to the service for some period (i.e. at least two years) and you will be ineligible for many veterans benefits to include but not limited to the Montgomery G.I. Bill. If you receive Other Than Honorable Discharge, you will be ineligible for most, if not all, veteran‘s benefits to include but not limited to the Montgomery G.I. Bill and you will be precluded from reenlisting in the service. If a General Under Honorable Conditions, Other Than Honorable, or Uncharacteristic Discharge is given, you may face difficulty in obtaining civilian employment as employers have a low regard for less than Honorable Discharges. Although agencies exist to which you may apply to upgrade a less than Honorable Discharge, it is unlikely that such application will be successful.”

“Pursuant to 1-16, AR 635-200, this constitutes a formal counseling session concerning your noted deficiencies. You will be given a reasonable period of time to correct these deficiencies and to rehabilitate yourself into a productive satisfactory Soldier. Your conduct will be monitored during this time and you will be given an opportunity to prove yourself. If your performance and conduct continues to be unsatisfactory, you could be processed for separation under Chapter 5-13 or 5-17 AR 635-200. You could also be chapter under Chapter 9, 13, or 14. If you are processed for separation under Chapters 9 or 13 you could receive a general discharge and if processed under Chapter 14, Section III, you may receive up to an Other Than Honorable Discharge. Regardless of the type of discharge that you may receive it may have serious consequences effecting civilian, veteran’s benefits, or future service.”

Source for DA Form 4856 Magic Bullet Statement – Visit this website to get different versions of the Magic Bullet Statement

If you need additional DA Form 4856 Magic Bullet Statements you can do a search on the Internet or visit your local JAG Office.  Also, some commands have their own version, so talk with your S1 or Company Commander to find out what they recommend.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the Magic Bullet Statement is simply a statement that is included on the DA Form 4856 when you do a negative counseling statement with one of your Soldiers.  It’s designed to educate the concerned Soldier on what the career and legal ramifications are for repeated bad behavior and poor performance.  If you read the examples listed above you will notice that it talks about how repeated poor performance could lead to separation from the military under AR 635-200, or that it could lead to an Other than Honorable Discharge.  It’s harsh, but it works.

What are your thoughts?  If you’ve had to use the Magic Bullet Statement before, what do you think about it?  Do you think it is effective?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  I look forward to hearing from you. Also, if you have any questions, you can ask them too. Post all comments and questions in the area below. Thank you.

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Thanks for Your Service,

Chuck Holmes

SKYPE: mrchuckholmes
(352) 503-4816 home office
Email: chuck@part-time-commander.com

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20 thoughts on “Magic Bullet Statement for Army DA Form 4856

  1. Pingback: da form 4856 july 2014 | Complete PDF Library

  2. Chris Hunter

    Great advice to use the Magic Bullet statement on every negative counseling. Not only does it serve to cover your butt, but it helps soldiers understand that their behavior can have very real consequences that can screw up their future plans. You said it – nobody wants to be kicked out of the Army or get an Article 15 or court martial.

    Reply
  3. Theresa Williams

    I had never heard of the Magic Bullet statement before or of anyone receiving this, although I know plenty of soldiers who should. I am a big fan of “eye openers”. In truth, it is a type of scare tactic, but one whose purpose is not solely to scare but to educate. Knowledge is power– so if whoever is receiving the negative counseling finds this attached, he knows you mean business, he knows you know he was out of line, and he knows what the consequences could be. Some will inevitably whine about it, but the paper trail really does make everything easier for the leader and higher-ups to take proper action and to not be won over by whining or “I wasn’t really that bad and he didn’t put anything in writing to warn me about what could happen!”

    Reply
  4. Chuck Holmes Post author

    You should use this on EVERY type of negative counseling that you do, even when someone fails that APFT. You’re not doing it to scare the Soldier. Instead, you are doing it as an eye opener, and to create a paper trail, in case you need it in the future. Some folks think it is harsh, but I don’t. If you are doing your job right, you’ll probably NEVER have a negative counseling statement your entire military career. And just because you get one negative counseling doesn’t mean your career is over, either.

    Reply
  5. Candace Ginestar

    David, I agree that it is a great foundation for future UCMJ recommendations. It’s easier to have your commander’s support when you are covering all your bases. A lot of NCOs do not do this, but they really should.

    Reply
  6. Mara

    The previous post that I had commented on, Army Disrespect Counseling, I was wondering what the Magic Bullet Statement was – and this answered my question! Sometimes I feel like I need this when confronting my children about their misbehavior (ha!) But likewise, this seems to be a great way for Sgts and NCOs to cover their butts when counseling someone who has disrespected or acted in a poor way. I would think that including the negative statement, plus ways or recommendations for improving behavior would be a great addition to the Magic Bullet Statement.

    Reply
    1. Chuck Holmes Post author

      It does work like magic, and I think that’s why they call it the “Magic Bullet Statement.” It lets Soldiers know there are consequences for their actions.

      Reply
    2. Candace Ginestar

      SGTs are NCOs, not separate entities…

      That being said, officers and NCOs alike do need to cover their fourth point, that I definitely agree with. I believe that the magic bullet is a great and necessary addition to any negative counseling we do. We also should make recommendations for improvement, that is how we close the loop. I don’t want to just lay the smack down, I want them to have ways to improve their behavior.

      Reply
  7. Joe

    I’ve been using the “Magic Bullet” on my subordinates’ counseling statements for years. It works every time. Nowadays, with the way the Army is heading you need to protect yourself. I’d suggest that any time you do a negative counseling statement for someone you supervise that you add this statement to the DA Form 4856.

    Reply
    1. Chuck Holmes Post author

      I agree that you need to protect yourself Joe. I’m glad you’ve been using the Magic Bullet Statement for a long time. That means you’ve been doing your job. Keep up the good work.

      Reply
  8. Suzanne Bowen

    Here is another possible DA Form 4856 Magic Bullet Statement… did I skip anything?

    We have completed counseling with you regarding the behavior reported above. Understand if this conduct continues, steps may be taken leading to your reenlistment and administrative action which could result in your separation from the Army service, and/or other punitive action. You may be involuntarily separated from the Army service under AR 635-200, Chapter 5, 11, 13 or 14. The conditions of involuntary separation could be labeled Honorable, General Under Honorable Conditions, Other Than Honorable, or Uncharacteristic Discharge. An Honorable Discharge may be awarded under Chapter 5, 13 and 14. An Uncharacteristic Discharge may be awarded under Chapter 11. A General Under Honorable Conditions Discharge may be awarded under Chapter 5, 13 and 14. An Other Than Honorable Discharge may be awarded under Chapter 14. If you receive an Honorable Discharge, you will be qualified for most benefits resulting from your military service. If you receive a General Under Honorable Conditions, Other Than Honorable, or Uncharacteristic Discharge, you may face hardship in obtaining civilian employment. Potential employers understand what less than Honorable Discharge means and may not consider you for a job. There are agencies that exist that you can ask to apply for you an upgrade from a less than Honorable Discharge, but such applications have a track record of being unsuccessful.

    Reply
      1. Jenny

        This is a very important statement to use on any negative counseling statement. It lets the Soldier know you are serious and what kind of things can happen to them if the behavior continues.

        Reply
  9. Michael Bowen

    I would hope that the supervisor would not merely place the magic bullet statement, but also provide specific remedy recommendations/requirements for the soldier to accomplish. But that statement definitely pulls no punches.

    Reply
    1. Chuck Holmes Post author

      The supervisor summarizes what happens, puts a recommended course of action, and includes the Magic Bullet Statement on the bottom of the counseling.

      Thanks.

      Chuck

      Reply
      1. Tony

        I use the Magic Bullet statement whenever I am doing a negative counseling. 9 times out of 10 it is very effective and lets the soldier know that I am not messing around. It also helps when you have to recommend a UCMJ Action later on down the road.

        Reply
  10. Neil ODonnell

    The DA Form 4856 Magic Bullet Statement certainly pulls no punches, which is why I imagine it can be a powerful deterrent. As the Montgomery G.I. Bill and other benefits are a main incentive for many who enlist, I can see where the danger of losing these benefits would convince a soldier to improve his or her behavior.

    Reply
    1. Chuck Holmes Post author

      You are spot on, Neil.

      Using the Magic Bullet Statement lets your subordinates know you are serious. It usually “opens their eyes” about the severity of the event and corrects the bad behavior.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Chuck

      Reply
      1. David

        Gotta love the Magic Bullet Statement. I use it on all of my counselings and it works wonders. Since I have a good paper trail, any time I recommend UCMJ or some type of disciplinary action, my Commander and 1SG back me up!

        Reply

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