In today’s post I want to talk about Soldier Initial Counseling. I cannot stress the importance of counseling enough. As a leader, counseling is one of your most important responsibilities. Unfortunately, most military leaders don’t do a very good job with counseling. Simply put, they don’t make the time to do it. As a result, many soldiers DO NOT know what is expected of them.
My best advice to you is to “make the time” for counseling ALL of your soldiers, including your new soldiers. Keep it a top priority and realize that it is part of your job. Even though it will take some time to do the counseling, they payoff is huge. Your soldiers will know what is expected of them, they will respect you more, and you will have fewer problems in your section/unit.
Listed below, I want to share a few tips to help you have a successful Soldier Initial Counseling Session.
When Should you Conduct the Soldier Initial Counseling?
You should conduct the Soldier Initial Counseling within the first 30 days of starting a new job, or within 30 days of a new soldier being assigned to your section. Initially, you should do a verbal counseling within the first day of meeting your new Soldier. The sooner you do the counseling the better. You can type up the results on a DA Form 4856 a day or two after the fact and have the Soldier sign it. Don’t forget to put it in writing!
What Should the Soldier Initial Counseling State?
The Soldier Initial Counseling is done on DA Form 4856. You can type up a standard Memorandum for Record and use it as an attachment with the DA 4856. At a minimum, this is what I recommend:
- Their job description
- Your personal and professional expectations of them such as drinking and driving, sexual harassment, the Army Values, integrity, etc.
- Report time for work and location of formation
- The chain of command and contact information
- The unit history, mission, vision, name and motto
- Upcoming training events and training schedule
All of these things should be verbally explained to the soldier and written down on their counseling statement.
Tips for Success
During the Soldier’s Initial counseling, try to do the following things:
1) Introduce them to the chain of command and their peers
2) Make them feel welcome to the unit
3) Find out if they have a family, and if there are any pending issues with their family
4) Give them a copy of the alert roster and chain of command
5) Find out what some of their personal and professional goals are
6) Find out where they are from, some hobbies, and personal interests
7) Walk them around the unit so they know where things are
8) Make sure they have all the personal gear and equipment they need to succeed
Once you have done these things, you can summarize everything on a DA Form 4856 and have the Soldier sign it the next day. This is the process I used to counsel new Soldiers and it worked well for me.
If you have any tips you would like to share concerning the Soldier Initial Counseling, please share your input by leaving a comment to this post. If you have any questions about Soldier Initial Counseling, you can also ask those below, and I will do my best to provide an answer. Thanks.