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How do I write the name of an honoree who was our mayor. Is he Mr. (Full Name), Former Mayor (Full Name) or The Honorable (Full Name)?
  — Ken

Dear Ken,
Former US elected officials continue to be officially listed as The Honorable for life. Since there’s a new mayor this former official is no longer the mayor anymore. “Former mayor” identifies him, but is not a form of address.  
The Honorable
 (a courtesy title) is used by others addressing the person. So, while it is never used by the host on his/her own invitation, it is used when listing a honoree:
 The Honorable (Full Name)
     If you feel you need to note what his job was for some reason, you can include his office, or former office on the next line:
The Honorable (Full Name)
Mayor of River City, 1990-2000
— Robert Hickey


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I just looked at your website and I have a question .You reference a directive “the DoD directive you refer to forbids the use by retired personnel of a military rank in any sort of commercial enterprise.” Do you know the exact citation for the directive?

— Writing Away @ the Institute for Defense Analyses



Here is what I have posted on my website (which has more information than this WordPress Version)

Note: JER is the Joint Ethics Regulations.

JER, para. 2-304 concerns use of ranks

“Use of Military Title by Retirees or Reserves. Retired military members and members of Reserve Components, not on active duty, may use military titles in connection with commercial enterprises, provided they clearly indicate their retired or inactive Reserve status. However, any use of military titles is prohibited if it in any way casts discredit on DoD or gives the appearance of sponsorship, sanction, endorsement, or approval by DoD.”

“In addition, in overseas areas, commanders may further restrict the use of titles by retired military members and members of Reserve Components.”

Here is an U.S. Army regulations that is related. Army Regulation 25-50, paragraph 6-6, paragraph d. The regulation refers to retired personnel in a post-retirement job among active-duty personnel but in which they are not on active-duty. “Army retirees serving as DA (Department of the Army) civilians will not use or refer to their military grade or rank except when referring to their personal retirement actions.”

DODI 5410.20 concerns use of uniforms or insignia

Paragraph 7 lists criteria to determine whether the best interests of the Government and DoD are enhanced by use of DoD materials, uniforms and insignia by anyone other than the Government and DoD. Any use of identifiably DoD material outside a a DoD environment is limited.

DODI 1334.01 concerns wearing of uniforms:

“It is DoD policy that:

3.1. The wearing of the uniform by members of the Armed Forces (including retired members and members of Reserve components) is prohibited under any of the following circumstances:

3.1.2. During or in connection with furthering political activities, private employment or commercial interests, when an inference of official sponsorship for the activity or interest may be drawn.”

— Robert Hickey

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How should a pastor go about signing his or her name?  I’m wondering whether I should be signing my name as “Rev. (Full Name),” “(Full Name), Pastor,” or ” Pastor (Full Name).”
     — DPM

Dear DPM,
When you say signing your name …. well, actually we just sign our names as … our name.
I never sign Mr. Robert Hickey …. I just sign Robert Hickey.
Physicians don’t sign their prescriptions (if you can read their signature) as Dr. (Name), they sign as (Full Name).  Full Name, MD appears in writing on the form, so they don’t need to include MD in their signature.  Even the President of the United States just signs his name to correspondence.
So, it would be odd to give yourself an “honorific” when you sign your own name.
Formally in writing your name is written (e.g., on the letter for you to sign above, in the weekly bulletin, or a sign outside your church} as:
   The Reverend (Full Name)  or
              The Reverend (Full Name), Pastor
In up to you to let others know how you like to be addressed in conversation or a salutation — Rev. (Name), Pastor (Name) etc..  So if you prefer pastor, a salutation would be:
    Dear Pastor (Surname).
       — Robert Hickey

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          I’m a college student, I graduate in May and have an internship lined up. I want to print some business cards to use for networking and my long-term job search.
The internship is unpaid and only for 2 months so I’m not sure if I want the company name on the cards.
My question is, could I put my degree, BA International Business, under my name instead of the company name? Or should I stick with the standard Company Name – Intern? It’s a small company and I feel like it’d be more beneficial to put my degree for job hunting purposes.
          — A.S.

Dear A.S.,
It would be inappropriate to create a company business card for yourself to be used for other than company business.
If you want to create a networking card for your job search … that’s a great idea.
I’ve seen them with a  just their name, degree, cell phone and e-mail — without a mailing address.  Why not include a link to your on-line resume?
          — Robert Hickey 


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Would it be appropriate to address an acting mayor of a U.S. city as The Honorable? Do you call him the Mayor (Name)?

— Cheryl

Dear Cheryl:
 The Honorable is reserved for officials elected in a general election … or those very high officials appointed by the President of the United States and approved by the U.S. Senate.
So if he/she is serving as acting mayor through an appointment … he/she would not be The Honorable. I say that with one exception: he or she might have been The Honorable due to prior elected service. 
    Typically acting officials are not addressed in conversation as if they were the fully elected and inaugurated official. An ‘acting’ mayor of a city, governor of a state, or president of a college isn’t really the office holder — he or she is ‘acting’.  So in a salutation or conversation use Mr./Ms/etc. (Name) and identify as the acting mayor.
              — Robert Hickey

Hi Robert:
This really helps us.  Our acting mayor who was formerly an elected legislator. Consequently, we will continue to refer to him as The Honorable.  We appreciate your assistance!
— Cheryl

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Dear Robert,
I have a question regarding a former district court judge (in New Hampshire) who by his own choice returned to private practice. Would this person still be called “The Hon.,” or would that be inappropriate because of his new role?
          — Mark in New Hampshire

Hi Mark,
The general rule is “once The Honorable, always The Honorable.”  So, address the official envelope:
The Honorable (full name)
(Name of Firm)

Retired judges are usually addressed in conversation as “Judge (surname)”
However a former judge would not be addressed using the forms of address for a judge if he has assumed another form of employment (for pay). He would not longer be accorded the courtesies of a current or retired judge. A judge who has returned to private practice would be addressed as “Mr. (surname)” professionally.
           – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

Dear Mr. Hickey
You state that a retired judge who returns to private practice is not longer entitled to the courtesies of being called “Judge” when he or she is in court.  Is there any authority for this view?  It could be argued that the title of “Judge” has supplanted the title of “Mister” and that it would be a discourtesy (both to the retired judge and to the court that he or she served) to strip the retired judge of the title he or she earned.  In court the judge is referred to as “Your Honor,” or “The Court,” so the parties involved in the proceeding will not be confused.
I should add to my earlier email that it is the practice in the legal community to continue to refer to a retired judge who has returned to private practice as “Judge (surname),” at least outside of the courtroom.
          — JAL & GW

Hi JAL & GW,
         The pattern in forms of address is when one leaves an office which has a special form of address — use of the courtesies of the forms of address related to the office extend to social use only.
        E.g., when USAF General who retires but subsequently works for a defense contractor — he is addressed as Mr. (Name) while working in his new professional role.  But he could still send out wedding invitations for his daughter’s wedding (a social use) as General (Name).
        Through interviews with attorney’s and jurists I have observed the same pattern.
        Thus addressing a retired judge as Judge (Name) socially makes sense. But addressing a practicing attorney as Judge (Name) is misleading in his role in the current circumstance.
        I am not saying it’s never done … it is. But when it is it has more to do with the person addressing the former office holder wanting to flatter the former office holder, or the former office holder wishing to receive some courtesy accorded a current office holder.
        – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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At our school’s classes we cover how to fold the American flag, its proper uses and display. When we addressed the issue of how it is draped on a coffin, I had the question: Is it only used for military funerals or can it also be used for civilians?  I had no idea and would appreciate your advice
— John R.

Dear John R.:
Most people are familiar with a flag-draped coffin at a military funeral and assume it can be  done only by the military. While it is a widely held opinion, but it’s not supported by the regulation.  The U.S. flag code is from our government, not the military. Just like any citizen can display the flag at his or her home, any citizen can have the U.S. flag on their casket as long as the flag is displayed correctly. When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the top left of the flag is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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