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Posts Tagged ‘How to Address Retired Persons’

Can a retired USCG Commander (O-5) use the title Rear Admiral in his civilian job? The retired officer in question is a USCG O-5 Commander and is allowing himself to be addressed as Rear Admiral, additionally, his name tag indicates he is a Rear Admiral. Is this proper?
— Joni

Dear Joni:
If he is retired, what sort of position he is holding that he is wearing a name tag?
There is a practice within the armed services when an officer is in a billet that would/should be held by a higher rank … the officer may be addressed that with the higher rank while in that office. Typically it would be an officer in command where an officer holding the standard rank for the office is available.
– Robert Hickey

Perhaps this is a case such as you mention and he is just carrying on the tradition of being addressed as ‘Admiral’ because the previous supervisor actually was a retired Admiral. However, this position is in the private sector; it isn’t a case of no one else being available to hold the standard rank required for the billet. Perhaps, the title came with the job!
My reason for asking is because my husband is a retired officer and my son is still serving. It just feels a bit ‘off’ whenever I hear someone call him ‘Admiral’ or see him wearing his ‘Admiral’ name tag when he did not earn the rank.
I wonder if I should speak up about it to anyone, or if it is none of my business?
— Joni

Dear Joni:
A person’s name is what they say it is, and it’s not up to others to determine if it is correct or not.  So I would address him as he requests.
Just know that it he’s a retired “commander”, having everyone address him as an “admiral” does not change his retirement pay!
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

 

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Robert …. how do I write include my rank in a post-retirement signature block at my new job?
– Bob Thompson

Dear Bob,
According to protocol at the Pentagon (my contact in in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force) … here’s their view on use of rank at a new employer:
“If retirees are in a new job, then they should use a signature block that supports that job and should not be using military rank and retired – it is a misrepresentation. They are an employee of the new employer and representing the new employer in their new official position – not the military. We run into this a lot when retired officers who attend Pentagon events and they are coming in their new “contractor” status not as a private/retired status. We don’t address them with their retired rank on invitations or tent cards etc., but with Mr/Ms (name) and their new company affiliation.”

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Barry C. Black, Rear Admiral ( RET), Chaplain of U.S. Senate will be the speaker at a local event.  How do I properly write the names of other local active and retired naval officials on invitations to attend the event?  Thanks.
– ICW

Dear ICW:
I have a chapter in my book just on forms of address for the US Armed Services. There are two forms of address in Department of Defense Style Manuals suggested for writing the name of armed service personnel … a social form … and an official form.
I am going to assume you will use official forms. Assuming you are mailing invitations in envelopes, then …
Active Duty — official form:
(Rank) (Full name), (Abbreviation for branch of service)
Rear Admiral James Wilson, USN
Retired — official form:
(Rank) (Full name), (Abbreviation for branch of service), Retired
Rear Admiral Barry Black, USN, Retired
or
(Rank) (Full name), (Abbreviation for branch of service), Ret.
Rear Admiral Barry Black, USN, Ret.
I actually have many posting on how to address officers …. check out
Active Duty   http://www.formsofaddress.info/USA.html
Retired  http://www.formsofaddress.info/USA_Retired.html
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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First, your book and your blog are a wonderful resource for those of us in the business of philanthropy. Thank you.
I am currently working with Thomas E. White, a retired Brigadier General in the U.S. Army and former Secretary of the Army. He is currently a private businessman here in Houston and insists we refer to him as “Mr. White”. Is that correct? I think it is from reading your responses to others, but wanted to check.t
– Tom Sloanmayer Houston, TX

Dear Mr. Sloanmayer:
Most Brigadier Generals in retirement will socially go by General (Surname) … every one I’ve ever encountered at least.
BUT there are Department of Defense regulations which prohibit the use of one’s military rank in commercial enterprises. So I suspect that as a ‘businessman’ he doesn’t want to present himself as anything other than a private citizen … which is what he is now.
See a previous post on this topic.
By the rules, now that’s he’s in business … Mr. (Name) … is appropriate
However if you meet him on the golf course in a decade when he’s a fully retired businessman … I predict he will not object to being addressed as General (Name).
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I retired from the US Navy with the rank of Lieutenant Commander in 1991.
My son is marrying.  He and his intended are sending out wedding invitations
Would the invitation to my bride and me be addressed simply as:
LCDR and Mrs. William A. Grillo
or
LCDR and Mrs. William A. Grillo, USN
The retired component would not be included since this is not military/official related correspondence as I understand it.
Very Respectfully
Bill Grillo, El Cajon, CA

Dear LCDR Grillo:
I cover this in my book on pages 147 and 217.
RE: USN
USN and Retired are not used on social correspondence.
So no USN
RE: LDCR and Mrs. William A. Grillo
The most formal way would be:
Lieutenant Commander William A. Grillo
and Mrs. Grillo
24274 Henderson Drive
Le Cajon, CA 92020-1700
Using the LDCR is the standard in military correspondence, but not in civilian correspondence.  Assuming this may be an invitation extended by a civilian, using the service-specific abbreviation wouldn’t be wrong … but for civilians spelling out every word is the most formal.
Most formally a person with an rank get’s their whole name as unit … and the Mrs. doesn’t get mixed in between his rank and his name.
And lastly … you may see … LDCR and Mrs. William A. Grillo here and there … but not on invitations sent out by the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon and not by The White House.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am writing with a question regarding the use of the Honorable in listings of names that are included on invitations. I work in the communications office at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. We hold many events on campus that often include invited guests of our President, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. We are responsible for creating many materials including invitations and programs-for these events.
Our specific question is, how should we refer to Dr. Jackson on our invitations and programs, and what is the proper etiquette for listing titles for individuals who hold many degrees (both earned and honorary) and are also current or past holders of government offices and are “Honorables”.
Example: Is it proper to say, The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., invites you to join her and the 2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Honorary Degree Recipients as they come together to discuss Re-Igniting the Innovation Economy: Science and Technology. I had read that it is NOT proper for someone who is an Honorable to use it in an invitation. Please advise.
– DP

Dear DP:
I’ve driven by Renssalaer many times … so I am happy to see your note. What a fantastic institution.
To your question …. in the United States “The Honorable” is not used with military ranks, personal honorifics, or scholastic degrees.
The concept is … it is a courtesy title given by grateful citizens to those who have served “we the people” … either as an official in office via a general election … or appointed by the President of the United States.
It is an honor so high it trumps academic degrees.
One does not identify himself/herself as “The Honorable” … others address him/her as “The Honorable.”
So NO to:
The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
and YES to:
The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson
… or if the degree is important …. e.g. on a academic paper … or on in a list where you want to establish her academic accomplishments … then include it … BUT “The Honorable” disappears:
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson

and in every instance in conversation she is:
Dr. Jackson

I say “in the United States” because the British DO INCLUDE all personal courtesy titles, ranks, honors, degrees, certifications, etc. with their name. Their ‘complete’ name is their resume.  So you will in see U.K. names such as:
His Excellency The Right Reverend Admiral Sir Kenneth Wilson, O.B., Ph.D., M.B.A., P.C.

On invitations the host/hostess does not identify himself/herself as “The Honorable” … others address him/her as “The Honorable.”
So YES to:
Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Or:
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am writing a joint thank-you letter on behalf of two non-profit organizations in our community – the Women’s Business Organization (WBO) – and the Historical Museum.  We recently partnered to do a fundraiser called “Dine Out Springfield”, which raised money that allowed WBO to offer three additional scholarships this year and allowed the Museum to enhance their artifacts and community outreach.
The WBO signatory is our current president.  The museum’s signatory is a US Navy Rear Admiral who is retired.  What is the correct way for me to note his name and rank below his signature line?  Is it Rear Admiral Warren Thompson, USN, Retired or Warren Thompson, R. Adm. (retired) or something else??
– The President-Elect of  WBO

Dear T P-E of WBO:
Note his name below his signature line in the same way one would address him most formally:
Rear Admiral Warren Thompson, USN, Retired
It might be a good idea to include his role under his name since he is not signing the document in any capacity related to his service as a rear admiral:
Rear Admiral Warren Thompson, USN, Retired
Representative for the Historical Museum

I include all the forms of address for rear admirals on page 216 of my book.
Some retired admirals might not use their rank in a post-retirement non-military position, but if you know that he’s a retired admiral, his preference must be to be addressed by his rank.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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